OKLAHOMA CITY — Chip Keating supported former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb in his bid for governor but wound up working for the man who ultimately got the job.
In February, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he had tapped Keating, the son of former Gov. Frank Keating and his wife, Cathy Keating, as secretary of public safety.
“Todd Lamb was like a brother to me growing up,” said Chip Keating, 39. “When Todd was defeated in June, I knew Gov. Stitt was the guy and got behind him full steam.”
Lamb, who served as the lieutenant governor and in the state Senate, said he met Chip Keating, then 13, while he was working for Frank Keating.
Lamb watched Chip grow up, had him serve as a groomsman at his wedding, watched him graduate from Southern Methodist University and go to work for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol before striking out in the business world. Keating works in real estate and oil and gas investments.
“We’ve been tight for a long time,” Lamb said.
He said Keating has a “fire in his belly to protect and serve.”
Lamb said Keating will be very effective as secretary of public safety. Like his father, Chip Keating has a critical but constructive view of the world and looks for solutions, Lamb said.
Anthony Francis Keating III, formerly known as “The Chipster,” was 15 years old when his father was elected governor. Back then, he was interested in law enforcement and considered law school.
He graduated from SMU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper from 2001 to 2004.
“It defined me as a young man and as a man today,” Keating said of his time with the OHP. “I think it helped the foundation of my success today.”
He said it instilled discipline and professionalism in him. “God led me to the OHP,” Keating said. “The men and women became second brothers and sisters to me.”
He started the Oklahoma State Troopers Foundation to help families of those who died in the line of duty and troopers with incapacitating injuries.
In 2005, Keating made an unsuccessful run for the Oklahoma House.
He said he was trying to find his purpose as a young man when he ran for the post and that he believes it was part of God’s plan that he lost.
While defeat is not an easy thing to swallow, it allowed him to do what he is doing today, which is giving back, he said.
Keating is on the boards of OU Medicine Inc. and the University Hospitals Authority Trust and is past board president of Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Keating said Stitt has a contagious personality, a ton of energy and loves Oklahoma.
He said Oklahoma has an opportunity to “hit the gas. We have a real shot to do it.”
“I don’t want to sit back and bellyache about problems the state faces if I am not willing to roll up my sleeves and be part of the solution.”
Keating chairs the Criminal Justice Reentry, Supervision, Treatment and Opportunity Reform Task Force, created by an executive order from Stitt. It is expected to issue recommendations for criminal justice reform and other efforts to reduce the state’s prison population.
The task force has drawn criticism for not being open to the public. Keating said the task force is “merely advisory” and that closing its meetings will allow members to speak freely. He said the panel’s report, expected in December, will be made available to the public.
Some of those recommendations likely will become bills. Concerned citizens will have the opportunity to voice their views to the governor and Legislature during the legislative session, Keating said.
Asked if he has ruled out running for public office again, he said: “God works in mysterious ways, and I trust his big plan for me. Today, I do not have any interest in running for office.”
He was recently back at the governor’s mansion, a place he once called home.
“It literally brings back fond memories,” Keating said. “It feels like yesterday.”
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