Gov. Mary Fallin, a force in Republican Party politics for more than two decades and Oklahoma's first female governor, formally launched her bid Thursday for a second term in office.
Fallin kicked off her re-election campaign at the Old School Bagel Cafe in Tulsa on Thursday morning, with stops planned later in the day at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City and the Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton.
Fallin's announcement came as no surprise; she raised about $550,000 during the second quarter and had more than $970,000 in her campaign fund by the end of June.
Fallin served two terms in the state House before being elected as the state's first Republican and first female lieutenant governor in 1994. She served three terms before winning a U.S. House seat in 2006. She ran for Oklahoma's open governor's seat in 2010.
That race was sure to result in the smashing of a gender barrier when she faced Democratic nominee and then-Lt. Gov. Jari Askins. With the help of a conservative tide that year in which Republicans took every Democrat-held statewide elected office in Oklahoma, Fallin won with more than 60 percent of the vote and became Oklahoma's first female governor.
Fallin campaigned on creating the best business climate possible and streamlining state government, and has followed through on both of those campaign pledges to some degree. She has signed bills to overhaul both the state's workers' compensation and civil justice systems, and to consolidate several state agencies under the administration of the newly named Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
Fallin also pushed an income tax cut through the state's Legislature this year, although the drop in the top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent isn't scheduled to go into effect until Jan. 1, 2015.
A serious challenger to Fallin has yet to emerge, either in the GOP primary on the Democratic side of the ticket. The only Democrat to announce plans to run is R.J. Harris of Norman, who ran for Congress as a Republican in 2010 and an independent in 2012. Harris has not filed any paperwork indicating that he's raised any money, according to filings on record with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
"I think there's a possibility we may have at least one other Democrat come out of the woodwork and become a serious candidate," said Wallace Collins, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. "There is work going on behind the scenes to entice somebody else to get in the race. There is a movement. R.J. Harris may not be the only Democrat to run for governor."
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