Oklahoma so far on Gov. Mary Fallin’s watch has done pretty well for itself, according to the objective measurements most voters care about.
As a result, she has done pretty well for the reputation of the nation’s 28 other Republican governors as a whole.
“When I took office, Oklahoma’s unemployment was 7.2 percent, and now it’s 4.6 percent,” said Mrs. Fallin, 59, whose attraction to governance is in her genes. First her father and then her mother served as mayor of her hometown.
Since she’s been governor, the state has seen 80,000 jobs created, she says.
One of the accomplishments that makes her the proudest puts her state at the top of the heap when it comes to per-person income increases.
“Our per-capita income grew over 6 percent in the short span from 2011 to 2013,” she said. “That’s the second-highest growth rate in this nation.”
Something else put Oklahoma in the first tier of achievers among all states.
“Our gross domestic product growth rate is the fourth-highest in the United States, and its ‘rainy-day’ savings accounts have gone from a sad yet laughable $2.03 in 2010 to more than $530 million today,” she said.
With former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton a possible presidential nominee for Democrats in 2016, Republicans think an accomplished woman who has proven managerial experience as a governor might be the perfect counter on the 2016 ticket.
But like other governors running for re-election, Mrs. Fallin, with a husband and six children, shuns presidential campaign speculation.
“I’m not focused on presidential politics or any other office but the one I hold now. I’m running for re-election, and I’m working to make Oklahoma’s economy the strongest it can possibly be.”
“It’s legitimate for people to ask me about the presidency,” added the former two-term U.S. House member and former chairman of the Women’s Congressional Caucus. “I get asked about running for president all the time, but I’m focused on running for governor.”
Focus is something she makes clear that she prizes as the underpinning of mothering and governing.
“There may be a day when I think of doing something else in politics and public service. If that day comes, what will matter is how successful I have been leading the state of Oklahoma, creating more jobs here, improving education and caring for taxpayer dollars. So all of my energy and focus need to go into the job I have now, regardless of what my future holds.”
Still, it’s a fact of life that if she wins a second term in November, she’s a somebody in presidential wannabe politics; if she loses, she’s at best a once-was somebody from a small state.