MIDWEST CITY — Although a gubernatorial challenger hasn't stepped forward, Gov. Mary Fallin is sending out appeals for contributions and holding fundraisers across Oklahoma to build up her campaign war chest.
Fallin, elected in 2010, said Monday she has no date in mind to formally announce her bid for a second four-year term.
The Republican governor said her focus in recent weeks has been to deal with the deadly tornadoes that struck the state in May.
“We've been pretty busy with regular work right now,” Fallin said after speaking to members of the Midwest City Rotary Club on the Rose State College campus.
Fallin, who announced for the 2010 open governor's seat in late February 2009, has never hinted that she would not seek re-election. It's uncertain whether she will formally announce her candidacy this month or wait until after she becomes chairman of the National Governors Association during its annual meeting Aug. 1-4 in Milwaukee.
“I haven't set a specific date to kick off a re-election announcement, but I have been having some fundraisers across the state and we do have a campaign website up along with sending updated emails out to our current supporters,” Fallin said.
Her speech to Rotary Club members recapped her successes during her administration and how the state's economy has fared since she took office.
It's a similar message that she sent to supporters a couple weeks ago, stating Oklahoma's 5 percent unemployment rate is the lowest in the country for any state with a population of more than 3 million people, adding 54,000 new jobs and restoring the state's savings account, the Rainy Day Fund, from less than $3 in 2011 to more than $530 million.
The latest campaign report shows Fallin had $601,272 on hand as of April 30. Campaign reports for the quarterly reporting period ending June 30 are due July 31.
Fallin, Oklahoma's first female governor, carried forward $216,027 from her campaign fund for 2010. She spent nearly $4.1 million in her successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Alex Weintz, Fallin's communications director, said the governor is planning to raise at least that amount for the 2014 race.
“We don't have a specific goal yet,” he said. “But we have no reason to believe it's going to be less than the last campaign.”
So far, no one has announced a bid to oppose Fallin.
Wallace Collins, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said he's talked with several people about seeking the post, but has gotten no takers.
“Nobody's put their hat in the ring yet,” he said. “Obviously we're still looking.”
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston said he hasn't heard of any GOP contender to challenge Fallin in the June 24 primary.
“I'm aware of very few (statewide) primary challenges at this point,” he said.
Fallin, in a June 28 email to supporters, said, “We can't afford to allow ourselves to be caught off-guard. We must start right now making sure we are putting in place today the plans and programs that will keep our state strong and allow me to focus on the job at hand, serving as your governor.”
Weintz said Denise Northrup, the governor's chief of staff who served as Fallin's campaign manager in 2010, is again serving in that role.
“She is serving in that position during her time away from work,” he said. “She's working full time at the governor's office and during her free time serves as our campaign manager. She's able to do that obviously because our re-election campaign is in very preliminary stages.”
Sharon Hargrave Caldwell, a partner of CMA Strategies, an Oklahoma City firm, is helping with coordinating fundraising, Weintz said.
Ed Goeas, president of the Tarrance Group, a national Republican polling group in Alexandria, Va., again has been hired as the campaign's lead consultant and strategist, Weintz said.
“There is going to be a fair amount of continuity between the last campaign and this one,” he said. “We're anticipating a lively campaign and a lot of hard work.”