"He all but endorsed Barack Obama," said a party official in northwestern Oklahoma. "He never actually did it, but he sure as hell gave aid and comfort to the enemy by what he said."
Said a party official in central Oklahoma in an email: "JC is seen as a DC person coming to OK to run against Cinderella! When JC is exposed as a lobbyist for the ACLU, an infomercial spokesman for a company helping you get money from govt programs and that he publicly stated he supported Obama but just couldn’t endorse him…. When that story is told he has 0 support from every person I talked to. If the background is not told then I would say he might have 25 to 30% support."
Said a party official in southwestern Oklahoma: "If JC is gonna get in – I hear he’s about 50/50 – sooner the better! He needs to get in, before people line up solid behind Mary! Makes it difficult to get them to change allegiance. And, he’s been ‘gone’ awhile. Think it would be a tough primary! People love JC & they really like Mary! So do I! I would say…. on that scenario also….a 50/50."
Said a longtime party worker and Fallin supporter from southern Oklahoma: "Some elbowed Mary out of the governor’s race for Steve Largent (in 2002) and that got us eight years of Brad Henry. Those same people, I hear, are now trying to trump her with J. C. and it’s not going to work. She’s in the race to stay and she’ll win the primary and be elected governor."
In eastern Oklahoma, a veteran Republican who was a volunteer in Watts’ campaign for the Corporation Commission in 1990 said she’s confused by Watts: "He won that seat in Congress and could have stayed there forever. Then he said he needed to make more money so he quit and became a lobbyist. What’s he going to say now? I’ve got all the money I need and I want to be governor?’ He hasn’t been involved in Oklahoma politics for a long time. And all that time, Mary has been fighting the fight, building her credentials and gaining experience. Over here, Mary will be very strong against anyone, even in the general election."
If Watts gets into the race, his lobbying work and list of clients is certain to be scrutinized. His website lists present clients as ACLU – Voting Rights Act Coalition; Aetna; Albany State University; AT & T; Black Farmers and Agriculturalists; Black Television News Channel; Bowl Championship Series; Cable News Network (CNN); Coalition for AIDS Relief in Africa; CompuCredit; D&B Specialty Foods; Falcon Properties; FM Policy Focus; Global Hue; Gospel Communications; Grambling State University; Hunt Building Company; John Deere; Keum Bong Construction; NASCAR; Mississippi Valley State University; National Association of Insurance Commissioners; Oklahoma Heart Hospital; Republic of Senegal; Robinson Aviation; Texas College; Turks and Caicos Islands; SAP America; Sepracor; United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee; Winn Companies.
Despite the questions some ask about Watts, others dismiss them as "just politics."
A Cleveland County party worker said Watts "isn’t quite the golden boy he was a few years back, but he has lots of support here and elsewhere. I suspect it would be a hot primary and a lot of money would be spent. I think it’s a toss-up as to which one of them would win and then you throw Randy Brogdon, and probably a couple of others, into it and it could be very, very close."