Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, who this week lost her bid to become Oklahoma's 27th governor, said Friday she is undecided whether to apply for an open seat on the state Supreme Court.
Askins, an attorney and former judge, said she still is reviewing whether she would meet residency
The opening, created when Justice Marian Opala died last month, is for the district that covers Oklahoma County; Askins, who has a home and is a registered voter in Duncan, has maintained the same residence the past six years in Oklahoma City.
A 1984 attorney general's opinion states that to be appointed a Supreme Court justice a person must be a qualified elector — someone who meets the qualifications to vote — as opposed to a registered voter in the judicial district for one year immediately before his or her
"I've asked for a copy of the attorney general's opinion that people say has been used so that I can read it to determine whether I qualify," said Askins, a Democrat who lost the governor's race to U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Edmond.
If she decides not to apply or does and is not selected, Askins said: "There may be other opportunities to serve the state. We'll just have to see."
The Judicial Nominating Commission has announced it is accepting applications for Opala's position through Nov. 19. Applicants considered to be viable candidates must undergo background investigations by the Oklahoma State Bureau of
The commission then interviews candidates individually and decides on the names of three candidates to forward to the governor. It's questionable whether that process can be completed by the time Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, leaves office Jan. 10.
Changes approved in the nominating process for judges which voters approved this week could further delay the process.
Back at job
Askins, 57, said she intends to fill out the remaining two months of her term; she was back in her state Capitol office the day after the election. Her term expires Jan. 10 when state Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, elected Tuesday as lieutenant governor, will be sworn into office.
"I'll just continue to do my job," she said. "Just because the election's over doesn't mean I woke up the next day and knew what I was going to do," Askins said after speaking to the 78th Oklahoma State NAACP Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
"I planned on winning, so I haven't made any other plans."
Askins lost to Fallin by 20 points. Fallin was helped by voters unhappy with Democratic President Barack Obama's policies, especially the passage of a national health care measure and efforts to increase taxes for the oil and gas industry, which makes up a large part of the state's economy.
Obama failed to carry any of Oklahoma's 77 counties in the 2008 election; his popularity in the state is at a record low 27 percent, according to one poll.
For the first time in state history, voters Tuesday elected Republicans to fill all eight statewide positions on the ballot; legislators in traditionally Democratic districts in southeastern and southern Oklahoma were defeated as the GOP made record gains in the House of Representatives and Senate.
Askins, elected to the House in 1994, served the maximum 12 years and then was elected lieutenant governor in 2006, said she wouldn't have run her campaign any differently.
"I don't think it would have mattered," she said. "If we had done some things differently, it might have changed the margin, but when you looked at what happened in local races, legislative races, district attorney races, I don't know that result would have changed. I
Askins didn't air negative ads against Fallin. Nor did she air negative ads in the Democratic primary, although she trailed Attorney General Drew Edmondson throughout the campaign and overtook him at the end, winning by less than 1 percent.
Fallin, who will be Oklahoma's first female governor when she takes her oath Jan. 10, also didn't air negative ads. But the Republican Governors Association spent about $500,000 on ads supporting Fallin, portraying Askins as an Obama liberal.
"The Republican Governors Association did a good job of putting the message in Oklahoma about how poorly President Obama was polling here in our state," Askins said.
State Election Board records show that nearly 100,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted a straight-party ticket in the ballot for statewide races. Askins said that was another indicator that voters were so frustrated with Democrats they voted against them all.
"There will be some pockets of Oklahoma where voters will this week realize that some of their straight-party voting caused them to defeat local elected officials that they didn't mean to take out of office," Askins said.