Rice (pictured), who serves Senate District 46 as well as minority leader in the Senate, said his resignation would be effective Jan. 15, 2012. A special election will be held to fill the seat 30 days later.
In office since 2006, he said he is resigning to support his wife. Dr. Apple Newman Rice, who practices medicine in OKC, recently had a career opportunity arise outside the state.
“She has made immense sacrifices for me in her support of my political career and public service, and I am honored to be able to reciprocate that for her now,” Rice said in a statement. “It has been an immense honor and privilege to serve the people of Senate District 46. I am grateful I have had the opportunity to be their voice at the state Capitol. I will miss the many friendships that I have formed with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Senate staff. I will also greatly miss the many relationships I have formed with the citizens of this great state. We are sad that this change will take us away from Oklahoma, but this is the best decision for our family at this time.”
Rice ran unsuccessfully against longtime Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe in 2008 for the U.S. Senate. The Democrat’s legislative term does not expire until November 2014. In a statement, Rice said he always considered public service to be a limited and temporary part of his career.
The Senate Democratic Caucus will hold an internal election in the coming months to choose a new minority leader in the Senate after Rice’s departure.
“I look forward to what lies ahead for me in my career now that I am leaving elected office,” Rice said in a statement. “Whatever it may be, I will continue to pursue ways to try and improve the common good, and be a voice for the underdog.”
Photo by Mark Hancock