By Patrick B. McGuigan
In an interview today (Friday, October 1), U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin expressed determination to win the November gubernatorial election, and conveyed equal passion to govern Oklahoma as a multi-issue conservative.
Asked to outline her top three issues, the Republican nominee for chief executive told CapitolBeatOK, “I’m pressing on jobs and the economy and the need for creating the best business climate. We need to keep taxes low, and work at lowering them even more. The pro-business initiative has to include going further on workers comp reforms and tort reform for the sake of lowering costs to our businesses.
“Creating the best business environment we can must include a push for more education reform, including assuring better reading skills and depth in the core knowledge subjects. A strong and educated workforce is essential to building a stronger Oklahoma economy.
“Second, government has to be made smaller, smarter and more cost effective. Waste and duplication in government remains a major challenge. The money that could be saved or better spent is our money as taxpayers and businesses. Government must work for the people, and that’s not always the case now.
I will bring together and empower, as soon as I can get them in place, the cabinet secretaries and agency heads with the mission of transforming government itself. A question to ask is if some of these agencies are as relevant as they were 40 or 50 years ago. Are they efficient and effective? If not, what is needed to make government work for and not against the people? Those are questions I’ll be asking, and pressing for answers.”
Fallin continued, “Third, Oklahoma needs a governor who is bold enough to work hard, if Washington, D.C. is wrong on a policy issue, to push for Oklahoma’s rights and to fight bad policies. I’ve done this in Congress on health care, or ObamaCare.
“I believe the new federal law is bad for our health care system. It raises taxes and it grows government. The mandate to buy something, in this case health insurance, is wrong, and unconstitutional. If I’d been governor in this past two years, I would have challenged the constitutionality of ObamaCare.
“We need a governor who can stand up against unfunded mandates, including mandates like those in the health care bill. We need a governor who will fight on Cap-and-Trade and every other effort to raise taxes on our energy sector. I am the only candidate who has stood up and said these proposals will devastate not only jobs but also industry.
“I’m the only candidate for governor who supports what Arizona is doing to secure its borders and stand up to the drug cartels. I believe it’s important to have a governor who stands up to D.C., when necessary, to defend our freedoms and rights.”
Asked to discuss Republican calls to “repeal and replace” the new federal health care bill, Fallin responded, “I am for repealing and replacing the new law replacing it with comprehensive consumer choice and a free market system to work for the people.
“I believe you’ll see an effort to allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines, the kind of health care that is best for them. Also in the health care area, we must have major tort reforms to protect citizens and our system from frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of premiums. That’s not in the federal legislation at all, and that’s a major weakness.
“As you asked, those are just a couple of examples. The major alternatives like those, [U.S. House] Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not even allow to be heard. She would not even debate concerns about costs and access in the proposal that became the president’s law. She wants a big government health care system and it needs to be stopped.”
CapitolBeatOK asked Fallin about the negative turn the election has taken in recent weeks, including how that has tested the friendship the two women have previously enjoyed. She answered:
“I have been friends with her, I respect her hard work and care for Oklahoma. I believe when this is over we’ll be friends.
“Some of the discussion about negative ads is interesting, because I’ve had many negative attacks on me for many years, including a lot of them in the time since I decided to run for governor. I’m going to stay ‘on message’ in my campaign about the need to create a more prosperous and dynamic Oklahoma.
“I’m focused on the future of the state of Oklahoma. My campaign advertisements don’t even mention my opponent and I certainly have faced attacks on the Internet and elsewhere.”
As for “messaging” in these final weeks of the campaign, Fallin explained, “We’re going to stress the importance of having a governor to provide leadership when Washington D.C. does that that hurt our state economy and state reaction of jobs. We’ve going to have themes that stress jobs and a stronger business climate, policies that put Oklahomans to work and keep them working.
“A third theme you’ll see is how important an educated workforce is to those first two issues, the need to have a business climate in which our children can find jobs and stay here at home. Wade and I have six children between us so that’s personal to me. Kids won’t stay here at home if they can’t, as they become adults, find jobs good enough to keep them at home.
“Another theme is to keep taxes low and when possible to make them lower. That will be an effort at distilling the Fallin Plan I described to you.”
Fallin added, “One thing I have to say is I’ve been a little surprised some have tried to say I’m not rooted here in Oklahoma. I have come home every weekend I could to be back here and stay rooted here. And, back on the issue of commercials, Jari has had two commercials against me.
So, CapitolBeatOK asked, how ardent a conservative will she be if she wins on November 2, and how does she avoid overconfidence in the ranks in the final month of campaigning? She answered:
“I’m working as hard as I can, as I ever have, to fight for this job. I am traveling between 1500 and 2300 miles every week here at home. I’m going to be campaigning aggressively to win this until the final hour of Election Day. I’ve been putting in 12-16 hour days to get this done, and yesterday was one of those 16-hour days. To some extent it’s been seven days a week, but I am blessed that I’ve been able to stop long enough on Sunday to go to church and have some family time.
“So, I’m not taking anything for granted. This is about the future of our state and nation. I have come to believe that the nation’s governors will lead the way, to get America back on track.
“In Arizona, I support what Jan Brewer is doing to protect her state’s borders and fight against the drug cartels. In Texas, Rick Perry has pushed through the strongest workers’ comp reforms in the nation. In Mississippi, Haley Barbour got major tort reforms enacted into law. In Florida, Jeb Bush in his time in office became a great education reformer.
“The governors will play the essential role in getting our country back on track, improving the economy and insisting on a right-sized government.”