History was made during Tuesday’s mid-term elections in Oklahoma, as Republican Mary Fallin was elected the state’s first woman governor.
Duncan native and current Lt. Governor, Democrat Jari Askins made a phone call to Fallin around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to concede the governor’s race.
“When we had our conversation, I told her congratulations,” Askins said. “We’ve known each other for 16 or 17 years and know each other pretty well. This was the first time we’ve ever gone head-to-head.”
Askins said she was disappointed that the race wasn’t as close as they had anticipated, but she felt that the pushback from Washington D.C. against the Democratic Party was a factor in the outcome.
“We hoped they would look at the individuals instead of the political party,” Askins said. “But the votes indicated that wasn’t the case.”
Askins said despite the positive outcome for her camp in Stephens County and southwest Oklahoma, she was still a little disappointed in the numbers.
“We looked at the numbers, and I might have done well there, but I didn’t have the margin of victory that we wanted,” Askins said. “It reflects the trends we saw across the state.”
Trends across the state did reflect what Askins said about pushback from Washington, as every Democrat running for a statewide position fell to Republicans.
“Looking at the margin of victory across the state, I’ll be curious to see what it shows after the election is dissected,” Askins said. “I’ll be curious to see what straight party voting was.
“I was told voters were moving in and out quicker at their precincts, which usually means there’s a lot of straight party voting, a lot more than I had hoped.”
Askins said she will continue to do her job as Lt. Gov. until her term is up, at which time she will help Republican Todd Lamb get used to his new post as the next Lt. Gov.
“Then, I will be home in Duncan, doing whatever I can to use what I’ve learned to help the people of Oklahoma, especially children,” Askins said.
Fallin makes history as Oklahoma’s woman governor
Fallin defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, enabling Republicans to control, for the first time in state history, both the governor’s office and Legislature at the same time. Fallin and Askins gave up relatively safe seats to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. Brad Henry.
With 47 percent of the state’s precincts reporting unofficial returns late Tuesday, Fallin received 56 percent of the vote over Askins, who also has served as a judge and legislator.
Before she was declared the winner, Fallin said the race was about more than simply electing a woman to the state’s top elected post.
“I think everyone is very proud we’re electing a woman governor, but it’s more about what we can accomplish for the future of Oklahoma,” said Fallin, who campaigned on making Oklahoma more business friendly, shrinking state government and improving public education.
This year’s all-woman gubernatorial races in Oklahoma and New Mexico were just the third and fourth such matchups in U.S. history.
The gender dynamic was highlighted in Oklahoma in recent weeks by a flap about whether marriage and motherhood meant the twice-married Fallin was more qualified than Askins, who is single. Fallin sparked the controversy during a televised debate with Askins when she cited raising a family as a key difference between the candidates.
In her concession speech, Askins thanked her supporters.
“I may be walking out of the Capitol on inauguration day, but I am not walking out on Oklahoma,” Askins said. “I am a richer person for having been in this position. I will be a better Oklahoman because of your belief in me.”
— Kevin Kerr is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354 Ext. 147 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.