Candidates for Oklahoma governor face tough race, issues

Fallin said to have early edge in governor's race
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT - Capitol Bureau Modified: August 2, 2010 at 7:41 am •  Published: August 1, 2010
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Odom said Fallin was expected to win a higher percentage and her underperformance may cause some support to drift. He doesn't see a large gap between the two.

"Mary has a slight lead at this point, but I don't think it's anything she ought to feel good about," he said.

A statewide telephone survey of 500 likely voters in Oklahoma conducted July 28 by Rasmussen Reports showed Fallin ahead of Askins, 57-36 percent. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Hill said all indications are that Republicans should do well in Oklahoma in November.

"But when you get to the governor's race, it is the showcase race for 2010 in Oklahoma and given the matchup I think people will sit back and wait and see how these two campaigns develop," she said. "One of the things that will be most interesting is, will there be a series of debates or opportunities for them to really square off and show the voters, 'Here's where I am on these issues.' I would love to see a true debate-type format."

Askins and Fallin, who won three statewide lieutenant governor elections before being elected to Congress in 2006, are familiar with each other, having served together for 12 years at the state Capitol.

Fallin, 55, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1990 and after winning re-election ran for lieutenant governor. She tied in the primary election but won in the runoff and went on to become the first Republican and the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor.

Fallin, of Oklahoma City, ran for the 5th Congressional District seat in 2006 when Ernest Istook stepped down to run for governor. Running against then-Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, she was the top vote-getter in a six-candidate race and beat Cornett in a runoff before going on to win the general election.

Askins, 57, after being appointed a special judge in Stephens County, lost her first bid for elective office in 1990 when she sought a state House seat. Askins, from Duncan, served as a member of Gov. David Walters' legal staff, was appointed to the state Pardon and Parole Board and was named director of the agency in 1994. She was elected to the House later that year. Because of 12-year legislative term limits, she couldn't seek re-election in 2006 and instead ran for the lieutenant governor's position being vacated by Fallin.

She won the most votes in a four-way race and won the runoff before going on to defeat then-House Speaker Todd Hiett, who had a better financed campaign.

Odom said Fallin will need to change her style of campaign ads to be successful this year.

"The No. 1 thing she's going to have to battle in this campaign is a perceived lack of gravitas to deal with the issues," Odom said. "Her 'I love Oklahoma'-type commercials aren't going to hack it this year. People are very aware that Oklahoma faces tough choices and budget problems. Running on faith, family, freedom all the sort of jargons and platitudes she's specialized in her career people are wanting more than that this year. Folks are getting tired of the usual fluff."

Odom said he likes the ads in which Askins said smart approaches have to be found to solve the state's problems.

"People perceive that Jari is smart," he said.

Hill said both candidates shouldn't "dumb down the voter and just assume that they don't want to know information. ... People really are interested."


About the candidates
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and Mary Fallin, who won three statewide lieutenant governor elections before being elected to Congress in 2006, are familiar with each other, having served together for 12 years at the state Capitol.

Fallin
Fallin, 55, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1990 and after winning re-election ran for lieutenant governor. She tied in the primary election but won in the runoff and went on to become the first Republican and the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor. Fallin, of Oklahoma City, ran for the 5th Congressional District seat in 2006 when Ernest Istook stepped down to run for governor. Running against then-Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, she was the top vote-getter in a six-candidate race and beat Cornett in a runoff before going on to win the general election.

Askins
Askins, 57, after being appointed a special judge in Stephens County, lost her first bid for elective office in 1990 when she sought a state House seat. Askins, from Duncan, served as a member of Gov. David Walters' legal staff, was appointed to the state Pardon and Parole Board and was named director of the agency in 1994. She was elected to the House later that year. Because of legislative term limits, she couldn't seek re-election in 2006 and instead ran for the lieutenant governor's position being vacated by Fallin. She won the runoff before going on in the general election to defeat then-House Speaker Todd Hiett.


Top 10 recipients (As of noon Tuesday)

Rep. Ron Peters

R-Tulsa: $1,130

Rep. Ken Miller

R-Edmond: $1,071

Rep. Colby Schwartz R-Yukon: $1,043

Rep. Samson Buck D-Ardmore: $957

Sen. Brian Bingman R-Sapulpa: $924

Rep. Gus Blackwell R-Goodwell: $887

Sen. Charles Wyrick D-Fairland: $866

Rep. Dan Sullivan R-Tulsa: $836

Rep. T.W. Shannon R-Lawton: $753

Rep. Steve Kouplen D-Beggs: $737

Bottom 10 recipients (AS OF NOON TUESDAY)

Sen. Jim Halligan R-Stillwater: $0

Sen. Mike Mazzei R-Tulsa: $0

Sen. Steve Russell R-Oklahoma City: $0

Rep. Jason Murphey R-Guthrie: $0

Sen. Anthony Sykes R-Moore: $13.54

Sen. Jim Reynolds R-Oklahoma City: $19.50

Sen. Randy Bass D-Lawton: $21.45

Sen. Randy

Brogdon R-Owasso: $25

Sen. Mike Johnson R-Kingfisher, R-Kingfisher: $45

Rep. Ryan Kiesel D-Seminole: $54.67

NO-GIFT LAWMAKERS ONLINE

Legislators who don't want to receive gifts from lobbyists are listed on the Internet. So far, two lawmakers have signed up on the list Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie. To get to the list, go to www.commoncause.org/OK/NoGifts.

The state Ethics Commission earlier this year rejected a proposal to provide a link on its website to a no-gifts list. Seven legislators, including Murphey, wrote to the Ethics Commission asking that it consider posting or providing the link. Some have posted signs in their offices that they do not accept gifts, but lobbyists still drop off gifts and legislators must report them if they're unable to return the items, they said.

MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU

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