Failure for Oklahoma Democrats to field a gubernatorial candidate in the next several months would result in the Democratic Party no longer being recognized as a political party.
Any Democratic challenger to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin will be nearly $1 million behind, according to a campaign report filed Wednesday, the deadline for the April 1 — June 30 reporting period.
Fallin reported having $970,580 on hand as of June 30, according to her report. She has raised about $1.1 million so far, which includes forwarding $216,027 from her campaign fund for 2010. Her campaign report shows she raised $547,688 and spent $178,381 during the past quarter.
She spent nearly $4.1 million in her successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
A state law that took effect in 1975 requires any recognized political party whose nominee for governor or for presidential and vice presidential electors fails to receive at least 10 percent of the votes cast in a November general election shall cease to be a recognized political party.
“That will help us intensify our search,” Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said Wednesday. “It would be a terrible thing if we didn't have any candidate.”
“Obviously, as Republicans we'd like to see that happen,” Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston said. “Not a lot of people are rushing to go sign up to get their heads beat in.”
Collins, a former state lawmaker, said the law was intended to keep third parties that failed to generate much support from clogging up the ballot. None of the two major political parties ever came close to not gaining at least 10 percent of the vote since the law took effect.
Democrats have yet to field a gubernatorial candidate, a rarity in a state where political fights historically showcased multiple Democrats and few Republicans. But that has changed as Republicans have gained in numbers and in 2010 Republican candidates captured all eight statewide seats up for office in the November general election, giving the GOP control of the governor's office and the Legislature at the same time for the first time. Republicans hold all 11 statewide elected positions.