After three decades in politics and two terms as leader of the state, Gov. Mary Fallin told Tulsa World last week that she is done with politics following the inauguration of governor-elect Kevin Stitt Jan. 14.
“I think it is time to spend some quality time, more time, I should say, with my family,” Fallin, 63, told Tulsa World, noting that her political career, which began in the Oklahoma State House and transitioned to lieutenant governor before she headed to Washington, D.C., as 5th District congresswoman, started when she was 35 years old.
Fallin’s time in the governor’s mansion will be remembered for her commitment to less-than-ideal ideals, even if it meant pyrrhic victories. Fallin was a staunch supporter of the erection of a Ten Commandments statue on Capitol grounds and wanted it returned even after the state Supreme Court and a voter ballot resolution ruled against the statue’s obvious violation of the separation of church and state.
Fallin campaigned on the platform of eliminating the state’s income tax. After years of trying different measures, she oversaw the reduction of the state’s income tax in 2016 that, in conjunction with a downturn in oil and gas prices, tightened the state’s path toward austerity. It gutted budgets of state agencies and put some school districts on four-day-a-week schedules, setting the stage for 2018’s teacher walkout.
The state’s financial situation is one of the primary reasons Fallin had the lowest gubernatorial approval rating in the country in a list by Morning Consult this past July, at just 19 percent. Fallin might not have a choice when it comes to pursuing another political career; the numbers speak for themselves. Of course, that only might mean the end of a public political career. There’s certainly a lobbying or consulting firm that is willing to add her to the payroll for access.
The state GOP has to be happy that Stitt’s messaging as a political outsider allowed him to comfortably win the governor’s mansion and expand its super majority in the state house despite Fallin’s huge disapproval rating. Even after all his talk about “draining the swamp” and distancing himself from Fallin, Stitt’s transition team is led by Marc Nuttle, a member of Fallin’s international team, and also includes Fallin’s labor commissioner Melissa Houston and former state Senator Mike Mazzei, whose 12 years as policy adviser for state Senate Republicans included Fallin’s tenure. Mazzei is now president of Tulsa Wealth Advisors, which makes him perfect to advise sentient wealth like Stitt.