For those relieved that incessant campaign ads have ceased in the political doldrums after November's elections, the respite might not last long.
Twelve candidates for Oklahoma offices already have launched their campaign funds for 2014, raising a combined $737,000 between them for the election two years away, records from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission database show.
Gov. Mary Fallin leads the pack of early starters having raised $251,320 in the Mary Fallin for Governor 2014 committee since it was opened in October 2011. Fallin carried forward $216,027 from her campaign fund for 2010 when she spent $4.1 million defeating Democrat Jari Askins to become the first female governor.
Fallin has had 29 donors give the maximum contribution of $5,000.
Those donations have come from eight political action committees, and a mixture of corporate executives, attorneys, lobbyists, and other people.
Most of the candidates with open funds are Republican incumbents, with two Democrats with open campaigns. No potential challengers have launched their campaigns yet.
The second-most active campaign for 2014 is Insurance Commissioner John Doak's fund which has $221,000 in reported contributions since it opened in December 2011.
He transferred $65,564 from his campaign fund for 2010 when he unseated Commissioner Kim Holland, the Democratic incumbent. Doak, a Republican from Edmond, spent more than $800,000 in that race. The insurance commissioner job pays $114,713 a year.
“I do believe that campaigns are going to have to get more expensive in the future,” Doak said. “I think you have to be prepared for that. … We see it on all levels and so I do anticipate the raise, costing at least what it did before, possibly more by the time 2014 arrives.”
Doak said he always anticipates that other candidates will step up to be a part of the legislative process and he wants to be prepared, especially as a relative newcomer to politics and one of the newly elected statewide officers.
“There is 712 days, 19 hours and 15 minutes until I'm re-elected,” Doak said. “I've really taken a businesslike approach to this. Campaigns are expensive and we have a systematic approach. It's something I'm extremely proud of.”
Doak said his office is meeting the needs of both Oklahoma consumers and businesses better than ever before, and he attributes the many campaign contributions he's received to his evenhanded approach to consumer protection and business-friendly policies.
Already 28 businesses, individuals and political action committees have maxed out their contributions to Doak by giving the $5,000 limit.
The majority of those donations have come from insurance companies and consulting firms for the insurance industry.
Doak said a Tulsa fundraiser in May with guest speaker Barry Goldwater Jr. helped launch some of those donations.
“That is an individual which a lot of folks in Oklahoma got very excited about and attended a fundraiser in Tulsa for,” Doak said. “My position related to Obamacare and standing up to the federal office of insurance which is in process right now, has played very will with insurance companies wanting a commissioner to protect state rights and protect consumers.”
State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, who is also new to statewide office, has raised $65,000 since her campaign opened in March. Barresi didn't transfer any funds from her 2010 campaign, when she spent about $1.2 million to win the office.
Senators file early
Half of the Oklahoma Senate districts will be up for grabs in 2014.
Senators who have opened 2014 funds are: Rob Johnson, R-Yukon; Eddie Fields, R-Wynona; Bill Brown, R-Broken Arrow; Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa; and Constance Johnson, D-Forest Park.
“I would say that in the Senate, Republicans take these races extremely seriously,” said Nathan Atkins, communication director for Bingman, who has reported raising $10,000 to date. “They are talking to voters on the doorstep, out in the community at events. They're very serious about keeping in touch with their constituents.”
Bingman, the Senate president pro tem, also has carried forward $153,000 from his 2010 campaign fund, which was closed in March.
Former Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, had launched a 2014 campaign for an undeclared office and raised $28,250 but closed the fund in September 2011.
District Attorney Greg Mashburn has launched his campaign fund for the District 21 seat in Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties.
Mashburn has raised about $81,000 since he opened the fund in August 2011. He transferred in another $80,000 from his 2010 campaign fund when he took office uncontested.
“Ever since I've been elected, I've done an annual fundraiser and then that allows me to continue to raise the war chest,” Mashburn said. “I can budget better, I can prepare for the campaign better, and it doesn't put me in a bind as far as trying to run an office and campaign.”
Mashburn said even when he was unopposed he was knocking doors until candidate filing closed.
“You never know until 5 p.m. of filing day what's going to happen,” Mashburn said.
Every September, except for one since he took office in 2007, Mashburn said he's held a barbecue fundraiser asking for support.
District Attorney Richard Smothermon also has launched a campaign fund for re-election to District 23 in Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties.
Smothermon has reported $1,500 in campaign contributions to date.
Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller also has launched his campaign for re-election and has reported raising about $3,000.