Mary Fallin

A day on the trail: Fallin splits time between campaign, official duties

September 9, 2014
The Journal Record
By: Emily Summars

For Mary Fallin, being governor is not an 8-to-5 type of job. Neither is campaigning for re-election.

Yet, when Gov. Fallin talks about her campaign, she describes it as energizing.

On the Friday before Labor Day, events started at 8 a.m. Yet her staff was working at 4:30 a.m., and the day of campaigning and official duties didn’t end until a little after 10 p.m.
"It’s exhilarating knowing we did something that will make Oklahoma better,” said Brandon Collins, Fallin’s eastern Oklahoma field coordinator. “She’s genuinely interested in every person. Looking at where Oklahoma was four years ago and what she’s done, there’s no doubt in my mind I want her back in office.”

Fallin had four stops that day: McAlester, Atoka, Antlers and Tuskahoma. And that was after being in Poteau for a campaign rally the prior night.

Christina Wacker, vice president for the Pittsburg County Republican Women, said she supports Fallin because of her stance on gun rights and straightforward thinking.

“I love her story as (Oklahoma’s) first woman governor, and she doesn’t have anything to hide,” Wacker said. “McAlester is already overlooked, so it’s another bonus she’s coming through.”

Cody Inman, state campaign adviser, said Wacker picked up something he also sees in Fallin’s character.

“The way she treats people and tries to do the right thing resonates with me personally,” Inman said. “I see what type of person she is and what kind of character she has, the way she conducts herself and runs the state. People respond to that.”

Fallin mentioned in every speech the accomplishments she’s made while in office: growing the state’s rainy day fund from $2.03 when she took office to more than $500 million, improving Oklahoma’s unemployment rate with job creation, consolidating government, putting more money into education and fighting Washington when it oversteps its boundaries.

She ended each speech by saying: “The challenge is moving forward to keep the momentum going,” before encouraging each attendee to take yard signs or bumper stickers, or make a financial contribution.

This is the basic structure of her speech, and she never looks at her notes. She takes creative privileges at each location, informed by a packet of information composed by her staff.

“I like to do my homework,” Fallin said. “I’m very picky. We do homework on how each town was formed, median incomes – I think it’s a good community service. We always reach out to elected officials in the area and we keep notes of who’s helped us, who we need to thank.”

A white piece of paper and Fallin’s black Sharpie were with her at each stop. She jotted down the names of the people who helped the campaign.

“I have a business background,” Fallin said. “That’s why I’m particular about the information. … It’s all about customer service.”

Fallin’s history is a big factor for Atoka resident Sherri Cochran.

“I believe in Fallin, the Republican Party and God,” Cochran said. “I want to portray that to my family, and Fallin exemplifies that and what I’d love for my daughter to be.”

Fallin never stops being governor, even when on the campaign trail. Yet acting as chief executive and running for another term can be a sticky wicket.

The day of campaigning ended in Antlers, but she had one event left in Tuskahoma at the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival. Because it was considered an official governor’s event, Fallin ditched the campaign bus to travel in her customary black SUV.

After touching up her makeup, Fallin signed a declaration pertaining to car tags between the Choctaw Nation and the state.   At the event, Fallin didn’t mention the campaign. She did not mention contributions.

She talked about cooperation between the tribe and the state. She discussed working together for the same cause: to build a better Oklahoma. She talked about car tags.

One thing has not changed: She still had a piece of notebook paper and Sharpie in her hand to take down names and issues.

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