Serves In Congress
Largent was reelected in 1996, 1998, and 2000. During his four terms in Congress, Largent followed a staunchly conservative platform against abortion rights and equal rights for homosexuals and in support of allowing prayer in public schools and granting government subsidies to private, religious schools. An advocate of the business community, Largent rarely voted for legislation endorsed by organized labor groups. In 1999 Largent attempted to ban same-sex couples from adopting children in the District of Columbia, a measure that was narrowly defeated. In 2000 he provoked criticism for suggesting that a Roman Catholic priest should not serve as the Congressional chaplin because it might make some members of Congress uncomfortable. Largent rejected the criticism as politically motivated.
In October 2001 Largent announced his resignation from his fourth term in Congress in order to run for the Oklahoma Governor's office in 2002. Although polls put Largent far ahead of his opponents, Democrat Brad Henry and independent Gary Richardson, a series of missteps plagued his campaign. A leading beneficiary of campaign contributions from Enron and Arthur Andersen, Largent became linked with the scandals that had rocked those companies. His critics noted that Largent had failed to author any major pieces of legislation and had failed to implement several measures that would have brought millions of dollars in federal money to Oklahoma, actions that suggested Largent was preoccupied with the national spotlight instead of serving his constituents. Largent's conservative image was also tarnished by the sixcount indictment in December 2001 of his daughter, a university student, on charges that included underage drinking, possession of false identification, and various traffic violations.
In the final weeks of the race, when questioned about his ineffectual legislative record in Congress in a television interview, Largent responded with an expletive that shocked many viewers. It was the turning point in the campaign and Largent ended up losing the election by just 6,000 votes to Henry. Largent told USA Today, "The underdog won. That happens in life, that happens in athletics, and that happened in politics last night." Rejecting Governor-elect Henry's offer of a position with his administration, Largent announced that he would resume his career in business and did not foresee any future runs for public office.