Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oklahoma Governor Race

Race of the Day

Oklahoma Governor

September 19, 2010
44 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Open
2008 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

In 2002, it took a near perfect campaign by a conservative leaning Democrat, a series of gaffes by the GOP nominee, and the vote splitting presence of another Republican running as an Independent, which allowed Democrat Brad Henry to narrowly squeak into office with a plurality of the vote in conservative Oklahoma. Politically successful while in office, Henry easily won reelection four years later, but with his term set to expire, Republicans now appear to be holding all the right cards in the Sooner State to regain power.

Democrats have a long history of winning statewide constitutional offices in the state. Two of them squared off this year for the nomination for Governor. Longtime state Attorney General Drew Edmonson had been considered the frontrunner but in July, was narrowly eclipsed by a candidate who was considered somewhat more liberal. Lt. Governor Jari Askins won her office, which is elected separate from the Governorship, in 2006 and before that was her party's state House leader.

Askin's Republican opponent just so happens to be her immediate predecessor as Lt. Governor, and by virtue of her gender, guarantees that the winner of this year's election will be Oklahoma's first female Governor.

Republican Mary Fallin served three terms as the Lt. Governor before being elected to Congress in 2006. During her first term as Lt. Governor, she went through a messy divorce in which she was accused by her estranged husband of having had an affair with her state trooper bodyguard. That allegation was denied by Ms. Fallin and as of last year, she has now remarried. She was the easy winner in the Republican primary for Governor.

The political climate of 2010 would make it more difficult for a Democrat to hold office, despite the appeal that Henry has had as Governor. All polls from this year have shown Fallin ahead of either potential Democrat opponent, and most recently, Rasmussen Reports shows her over the 50 percent mark and 15 points ahead of Askins.

Both women are about the same age, which presents an interesting political dynamic in the state, considering that a woman has not been Governor before. If this were a beauty competition, Fallin would definitely have the edge, but of course, a major election is a more serious proposition, and the Republican seems to be on her way to victory in that regard as well. Her victory would be another step forward in what might be shaping up to be the year of the conservative, Pro-Life Republican woman.

Fallin campaign link:

2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 7 D, 19 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 14 D, 25 R