Rep. Mary Fallin (R)
Oklahoma 5th District
Oklahoma City, like many state capitals, was not the spontaneous creation of commerce but the deliberate creation of government, sited in the geographic center of the state on what turned out to be oil land. Rigs were pumping crude on the grounds of the Capitol until 1989, and a derrick still stands sentinel outside the governor’s window. The land here is browner and more eroded by creeks than the rolling Oklahoma farmland farther east. From its center, Oklahoma City has grown far out into the countryside, and, as has happened in so many southwestern cities, its limits expanded so that the city now extends into four counties and three congressional districts, and covers 621 square miles. The capital captured worldwide attention in April 1995 when a bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people and injuring more than 500. The profound grief here was channeled into the construction of the Oklahoma City National Memorial on the site of the blast, movingly dedicated exactly five years later in April 2000. In 2006, fueled by the oil boom and sales tax revenues, the city moved to rebuild its downtown with condominiums, a baseball stadium, and a canal through the Bricktown area. The revival was set back by the closing of a General Motors assembly plant the same year. But overall, the area’s soaring farm commodities prices have helped to keep the economy strong while much of the nation moved toward recession. Local pride spiked in October 2008 when the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association relocated to the city and became the Oklahoma City Thunder, the state’s first major sports franchise.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 5th Congressional District includes Oklahoma City and all but a small section of Oklahoma County where Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base are located. It also takes in Pottawatomie and Seminole counties to the east. These two counties partake of the ancestral Democratic leanings of most of Oklahoma. But Oklahoma City is solidly Republican in state and national politics, and Oklahoma County casts about 90% of the district’s votes.
Rep. Mary Fallin (R)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: Dec. 9, 1954, Warrensburg, MO .
Home: Oklahoma City.
Education: Attended OK Baptist U., OK St. U., B.S. 1977, attended U. of Central OK.
Family: Divorced; 2 children.
Elected office: OK House of Reps., 1990-94; Lt. Gov., 1994-2006.
Professional Career: OK Dept. of Tourism and Rec., OK Securities Comm., OK Office of Personnel Mgt., 1977-82; Hotel mkting. and mgt., 1983-90.
The congresswoman from the 5th District is Republican Mary Fallin, first elected in 2006. She was born in Missouri but raised in Tecumseh; her mother and father were Democrats and each served as mayor of the town. After graduating from Oklahoma State University, Fallin managed hotel properties and was a commercial real estate broker. In 1990, she was elected to the state House, where she championed victims’ rights and health care reform. She became lieutenant governor four years later, making her the first Republican and the first woman to hold the office in Oklahoma. During her three terms as lieutenant governor, she expanded her reach well beyond the office’s traditional ribbon-cutting responsibilities. With a focus on economic development, she compiled a pro-business record and played a key role in bringing the right-to-work issue to a successful statewide vote. But in 2005, she failed to get the Democratic-controlled Senate to overhaul the state worker compensation system. Her star had dimmed a bit in 1998 when, in the course of a bitter divorce, she was accused of having a sexual relationship with a state trooper assigned to her security detail; both of them denied the charge. Democrats used the scandal to attack Republican Gov. Frank Keating for refusing to criticize Fallin, even though he had earlier been a vocal critic of President Clinton’s sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
|Mary Fallin (R)||171,925||(66%)||($1,081,684)|
|Steven Perry (D)||88,996||(34%)|
|Mary Fallin (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (60%)
In June 2005, Fallin announced that she would seek a fourth term as lieutenant governor. But she changed her mind when GOP Rep. Ernest Istook decided to relinquish his House seat and run for governor. She joined a wide-open primary race for Istook’s seat as one of six Republican candidates. Her chief opponents were state Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Bode’s Republican credentials were suspect because she was a former aide to U.S. Sen. David Boren, a Democrat. Cornett had the backing of Christian conservatives, who were pleased that the mayor had removed gay-themed books from the children’s section of public libraries. In the initial July balloting, Fallin led with 35% and Cornett’s base in Oklahoma City propelled him to a second-place finish with 24%. Bode came in third with 19%. Fallin and Cornett competed in an August runoff. The two candidates had few differences on the issues, but Fallin had a big fundraising advantage. She defeated Cornett, 63%-37%, even though Oklahoma County cast 93% of the vote. In this solidly Republican district, the general election was an afterthought. Against Oklahoma City physician David Hunter, Fallin won 60%-37% to become the first woman sent to Washington by Oklahoma since 1922.
In the House, Fallin quickly established her bona fides as an ardent conservative, and she sought leadership roles as a freshman. In June 2007, she saw her first bill passed in the House: a revamping of federal grants for women’s business centers. She joined a group of 38 Republicans who staked out negotiating positions in opposition to the Democrats’ proposal to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. In July 2008, she was part of a House Republican delegation that traveled to Alaska to try to bolster the case for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Fallin became politically active on the executive committee of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which fellow Oklahoman Tom Cole chaired. In the 2008 presidential contest, she was an enthusiastic backer of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the GOP vice presidential nominee, calling her “an excellent model for other women.” Fallin took a vocal role in defending Palin against attacks by Democrats. At home, Fallin was re-elected easily in 2008 and is a possible contender for governor in 2010.