Republican candidate for Oklahoma State Governor, Mary Fallin, had a few extra minutes in her busy schedule recently and I was able to conduct a short interview with her. Here is a transcript of that interview:
1. Why are you running for Governor of the State of Oklahoma?
I am running for governor to restore principled, conservative leadership to the governor’s office. For too long, we’ve been without a leader whose focus has been on job growth and fiscal discipline. I plan on being that leader. As your next governor, I will create an atmosphere where businesses and the private sector can thrive, more and better jobs are brought into Oklahoma, and our state government operates in a smarter, more modern and more efficient way.
2. Can you briefly tell me why the voters should choose you over Jari Askins?
If you are a conservative voter looking for a conservative candidate, I am your gal. I stood up to President Obama’s big spending, big government agenda. I voted against Obamacare and I was one of the first to encourage our state leaders, including Lieutenant Governor Askins, to join other states in challenging the constitutionality of that law. I support tough, smart policies to combat illegal immigration, similar to what we’ve seen in Arizona. And I am pro-gun and pro-Constitution, with an “A” rating from the NRA.
Compare that record to that of my opponent. She says she still hasn’t read the health care bill and doesn’t have any opinion either way on Obamacare. She opposes Arizona’s immigration law. And she was one of only 5 state representatives to vote against a law allowing law abiding, permitted gun owners to carry concealed weapons.
I think it’s clear that I am the conservative candidate in this race and that my views are the views of the average Oklahoman. My opponent, on the other hand, leans far to the left and her politics have more in common with President Obama’s than with the working men and women of our state.
3. If elected Governor, what would be your #1 priority and how would you address it?
As governor, creating more and better jobs will be my number one priority. I’ll lead the way by working towards lower taxes on businesses and individuals, reducing government bureaucracy and eliminating the kind of red tape and litigation costs that keep a lid on small business growth.
We also need to renew our commitment to education. Without a highly skilled, well educated work force, businesses will choose to locate elsewhere and our citizens will find it harder than ever to compete in a global economy. That’s why increasing school rigor and getting more money into our classrooms will be priorities during my administration.
4. Do you support state legislation that would make English the official language of the state of Oklahoma?
5. If proposed, would you support an immigration law like the one recently passed in Arizona? Why or why not?
Yes. The Arizona law basically just gives local law enforcement officers the ability to enforce the laws we already have on the books. It reinforces a simple principle: if you want to live here, you have to live here legally. I absolutely support getting tough on illegal immigration and I was happy to receive the endorsement of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in my race.
6. Education is a big concern in our state, how would you address making sorely needed changes in that system?
Improving our public schools will require getting more money into our classrooms and cutting down on administrative overhead. It will mean providing incentives for excellence in teaching by rewarding good teachers for a job well done. Above all, it will require raising expectations for our students, who must be proficient in basic reading and math at an earlier age not only to succeed in school, but to prepare them for an increasingly competitive global economy. As governor, I will lead the charge in demanding and getting more out of our public school system.
7. In regards to creating new jobs in our state, you have stated that the best course of action is to lower taxes. The question is, lowering taxes usually means enacting some spending cuts. What areas of our state budget would you begin with and why?
Oklahoma currently has over 500 state agencies, board and commissions, more than twice the number of some of our neighboring states. In a bureaucracy that big and intertwined, there is bound to be duplication and waste. One of my first acts as governor will be to ask every agency head to do a top to bottom review, to reexamine the relevancy of their original mission, to justify every dollar spent and to ensure there is no overlap or mission creep with other agencies. I think people will be surprised by how much money we can save once we develop a more efficient and effective state government.
8. Do you feel that ballot access in Oklahoma is too constrictive for political candidates that do not belong to either the Republican or Democratic parties? If so, what would you do, as governor, to reform this system?
I think we need to strike a balance that allows serious, competitive independent candidates to get on the ballot. I know some people have expressed legitimate concerns over whether we actually have such a system, and I would be happy to review it as governor.
9. Along the same lines as that last question, there are some states that have an open primary system, where no matter what party you register for, you can vote in the primary, as opposed to Oklahoma’s closed primary system, where you can only vote in the primary of the party you have chosen to register as. Is this something you would like to see changed? Why or why not?
There are pros and cons to both systems. In an open primary, voters from the opposite party can purposely meddle with the outcome of your party’s primary. In a closed primary, independents who might otherwise favor one candidate over another can’t vote. In either case, there can be problems.
I am satisfied with the way our primary system operates now, although I am not opposed to reviewing the way we hold elections to ensure that we have the most equitable system available. Either way, I think the key to a successful primary election (and a successful Republic) is educated, informed and enthusiastic voters. It is not hard to change your party registration. If independents had wanted to vote in the Republican primary for governor, for instance, all they needed to do was change their registration. Based on the record turnout in the election, it appears many did.
10. Any final thoughts you would like to leave with my readers?
If you are a conservative voter in either party (or a conservative independent) who believes in limited government and low taxes, who is fed up with business as usual in Washington, who wants to see more jobs and opportunities in Oklahoma and believes in fiscal responsibility, I am humbly asking for your vote and support in November.