- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Gov. Mary Fallin doesn’t plan to change her re-election strategy now that there is only one Democratic challenger remaining in the race, her campaign spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Acting Fallin campaign spokesman Alex Weintz made the comments while reacting to R.J. Harris’s decision to drop out of the Democratic primary for Oklahoma governor and endorse Democratic state Rep. Joe Dorman of Rush Springs.

“We’ve always known we’re going to have an opponent,” Weintz said. “We’re going to take this race seriously regardless of who gets in the race or who gets out of the race.”

Harris announced on his website Wednesday that he was leaving the race and endorsing Dorman, who will become the Democratic nominee if no other Democrat enters the 2014 governor’s race. Candidates must file by April 11 to run in the June primary.

“You will find a candidate who, like me, is socially tolerant and fiscally conservative,” Harris said in endorsing Dorman. “I am very impressed with Joe and our similarities on several key issues makes this an easy endorsement.”

Mark Nestlen, a spokesman for Dorman’s exploratory committee, said the campaign is considering ways Harris can assist Dorman during the campaign.

“We have had several meetings with Mr. Harris and looked at areas where we believe he can be a strong asset to the campaign,” Nestlen said.

He said the campaign doesn’t know of anyone who might be considering challenging for the Democratic nomination.

“It’s a pretty good signal that the Democratic Party in total is looking to Rep. Dorman,” Nestlen said. “They see his leadership as what is needed in this state.”

Fallin is running for her second term as governor and faces a GOP primary challenge from former state Sen. Randy Brogdon, who filed paperwork last month to run for governor. Fallin became Oklahoma’s first female governor when she captured more than 60 percent of the vote in the 2010 election against then-Lt. Gov. Jari Askins.

Weintz said Fallin’s campaign isn’t concerned that Dorman will be able to direct all of his campaign resources toward the incumbent governor while Fallin has to fend off a primary challenger.

“Right now our focus is on governing,” Weintz said. “I think the governor’s record speaks for itself. She’s a successful governor who has kept her promises to the voters.”

He said Fallin has focused on job-creation and eliminating wasteful government spending during her first term.

“The governor has a great track record to run on,” he said. “Oklahoma’s economy is vastly outperforming the national economy. We’re making government more efficient.

“Regardless of who our opponent is, that’s the message we’re going to take to voters,” Weintz said.

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