Fallin Fifth Least Popular Governor
By: Constitution Staff
As the administration of Governor Mary Fallin winds down, her approval ratings are winding down as well. According to Morning Consult Governor Approval rankings, which polled 85,000 registered voters across the country in the first three months of the year, Fallin has an approval rating of 41 percent, as opposed to a 52 percent disapproval rating.
The least-popular governor in the country is New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who holds a mere 25 percent approval rating. The most-popular governor is a Republican in Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, whose approval-disapproval mark is 75-17.
Other governors that Fallin beat out were Michigan’s Rick Synder, Connecticut’s Dan Malloy, and Kansas’ Sam Brownback.
Other well-known governors and their approval-disapproval percentages included Texas’ Greg Abbott (64-24); Arkansas’ Asa Huthinson (67-22); Ohio’s John Kasich (59-33); and California’s Jerry Brown (58-34).
For years, Governor Fallin has enjoyed a somewhat charmed political career, earning her the nickname “Magic Mary.” She was first elected state representative in 1990, then four years later she enjoyed the great Republican tide of the first Clinton mid-term to become Oklahoma’s first lieutenant governor. In that position, her approval ratings could do little but soar, as the lieutenant governor makes few decisions that will cause opposition, but at the same time, she is able to keep a fairly high profile, cutting ribbons and the like. Even the embarrassing episodes involving her divorce from her first husband did not seem to make a major dent in her popularity with Republicans.
In 2002, she considered running for governor, but she backed off, realizing she probably could not defeat Congressman Steve Largent in a Republican primary. Largent ran a lackluster campaign, however, and lost to Democratic nominee Brad Henry.
By 2006, Fallin was ready to try for a different office – Congress. She was able to win that post against a fairly competitive field that included Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode.
In Congress, she compiled a voting record that was actually more conservative than the dismal 59 percent Conservative Index average she had as a state legislator. But then in 2008, she opted to vote for the bailout of the big banking houses. This led to her first real opposition within the Republican Party. There were even scattered boos at the 2009 Republican State Convention when she spoke, and she was clearly perturbed. She did not attend last year’s Republican State Convention, although she did travel to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention.
Nevertheless, she was able to win the Republican nomination for governor in 2010 over conservative state Senator Randy Brogdon, garnering 55 percent of the vote. She was helped in that race by some conservative female state legislators, past and present, who basically asked for Republicans to back her because of her sex.
As governor, Fallin has generated some opposition within the Republican Party, vetoing pro-life and pro-gun rights legislation, asking for a massive tax increase on services, and wavering on workers’ compensation reform. When her daughter parked a trailer on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion, it opened Fallin up to some ridicule. While this may be unfair (parents cannot be held responsible for their grown children’s actions), it was nevertheless not likely to raise her approval ratings.
Fallin came from a Democratic family, but switched to Republican in college. Her first husband, Dr. Joe Fallin, a dentist, was active within the Republican Party, but he was not known as a hard-core conservative by any means. In 1982, he was part of the Republicans for [Democrat] George Nigh for governor. Mary Fallin has never made any public statement as to whether she supported Democrat Nigh or the Republican candidate in that election.
With her low approval ratings, the likelihood that Fallin will seek another public office is diminishing. She was considered for a post in the Trump Administration, but for whatever reason, was not chosen. Fallin has had a long successful political career in Oklahoma, winning elections, largely on style (her slogan in one election was Faith, Family, and Freedom), but it appears that the Fallin Era of Oklahoma politics may be nearing its end.
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