Benefiting from voters upset with what they see as an overreaching federal government, Republican Mary Fallin on Tuesday was elected the state's first female governor.
GOP candidates also swept all statewide offices, another first, including lieutenant governor, insurance commissioner, labor commissioner, superintendent of schools, auditor and inspector, attorney general and treasurer. The Republican Party also has control of the Oklahoma House and Senate.
Fallin, becoming only the second Oklahoma member of Congress to win the state's top chief executive post, captured about 58 percent of the vote over Democrat Jari Askins.
"It feels wonderful," said Fallin, a congresswoman from Edmond, saying she was deeply humbled and honored.
"I'm a small-town girl from Tecumseh, Oklahoma," she said.
Fallin said she would start "immediately on right-sizing government."
"One of the first things I'll do is to address our financial challenges that we have within our state," Fallin said outside her suite at the Oklahoma City Marriott, site of the Oklahoma Republican Party's watch party.
"I talked on the campaign trail about having a governor's task force to look at ways to make government more efficient and more effective.
"I've identified people throughout the state that I hope will come alongside me and work with me to take an in-depth look at how we can create more efficiency and eliminate waste and any duplication in government, that we can put the money to our important priorities of our state such as education, transportation, law enforcement, corrections and mental health."
On the campaign trail, Fallin used just about every opportunity to demonize Democratic President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress for passing the health care measure earlier this year and for being against the oil and gas industry, a huge player in Oklahoma's economy.
Fallin repeatedly said she would "stand up to Washington" and the big-government policies of Obama.
Askins, the state's lieutenant governor, tried to distance herself from the president, who failed to win any of Oklahoma's 77 counties two years ago. She said she opposed the health care law for more than a year and said on several occasions she never even met the president.
Askins tried to put the focus on her ability to continue the workhorse-like attitude she developed as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and lieutenant governor.
She told supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel that she had congratulated Fallin.
"I pledged to her my support and offered her that anytime that I could share or help Oklahoma she could count on me, just like the people of Oklahoma could count on me for 30 years of public service," Askins said. "I also believe the voters of Oklahoma have spoken."
Askins said Oklahomans' unhappiness with the president and Congress played a part in her race.
"A lot of what happened in Washington did have an effect on what happened," she said. "We worked very hard and I feel I am very different from the Democrats in Washington."
Republicans gained a majority in the House after the 2004 elections for only the second time in history and took control of the Senate for the first time in state history after the 2008 elections.
The Republican Governors Association spent about $500,000 on ads supporting Fallin, portraying Askins as an Obama liberal.
Askins and Fallin raised more than $8 million between them. Askins, who loaned her campaign $1.125 million, raised $4.07 million and Fallin raised $3.95 million.
Askins, 57, proposed a biennial budget cycle that would require more businesslike budget planning and review of existing revenues and expenditures. She also said she would work to develop a comprehensive fiscal review process.
Fallin said she would improve the economy by working to reduce workers' compensation costs and legal fees and would seek to improve education to ensure Oklahoma has highly skilled work force that attracts good jobs. She also said she would work to scale back taxes on individuals and businesses.
Fallin, elected the state's first female lieutenant governor in 1994, will succeed Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, who could not seek a third four-year term because of term limits.
Fallin will take office in January.
Fallin, 55, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1990 and after winning re-election ran for lieutenant governor. She became the first Republican and the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor.
Fallin ran for and captured the 5th Congressional District seat in 2006 when Ernest Istook stepped down to run for governor.
Fallin opted against seeking re-election to run for governor. She announced her candidacy in February 2009.
Fallin will take office in January.
Until then, she will hire a staff and name key advisers as she works on developing a balanced budget for the next fiscal year, which is expected to have a significant revenue shortfall. She also will have hundreds of appointments to consider.