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Historic Oklahoma governor's race has voters' attention

Most of those asked at the Oklahoma State Fair knew the names of the two women running for governor. Those who didn't know came up with their names when given hints. None, however, knew the names of the two legislators running for lieutenant governor.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: September 19, 2010

Harley didn't hesitate when asked about the gubernatorial candidates, correctly naming both women.

Susan Catlin, 47, of Wellston, said she thinks both gubernatorial candidates are qualified.

"I don't think of it as women versus men," she said. "It's whoever's best for the position."

Fallin is the first female GOP gubernatorial candidate in Oklahoma's 103-year history. Askins is the second woman to win the Democratic nomination for governor. Laura Boyd was the Democratic nominee in 1998; she lost to then-Gov. Frank Keating.

"It's always good for a change," said Ashley Bell, 30, of Oklahoma City. "Women are very good at running businesses and running homes, so why not your state? We're natural caregivers; we're fixers."

"It just gives a different perspective to the issues and politics," said Joe Fusco, 43, of Stillwater.

Fallin served two terms in the state House of Representatives before she was elected in 1994 as the state's first female lieutenant governor. She served three terms in that post and was elected in 2006 to Congress.

Askins, from Duncan, was a judge before winning election in 1994 to the Legislature, where she served the maximum 12 years. She was elected lieutenant governor in 2006.

"We've already had Jari Askins and Mary Fallin both as lieutenant governor," said Christina Hoffman, 44, of Moore.

"It's about time," said Janice Gaches, 62, of Bridge Creek.

"I think it'll be all right," said Greg Smith, 55, of Midwest City. "It can't be any worse than Barack Obama. We got out the first black president; we can have the first woman governor."

Elmer Wyatt, 73, of Meeker, said: "We're going to have to deal with it. We're going to have it."