Fallin to seek re-election to third term

Thursday, March 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Citing family considerations, Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin announced Thursday that she would not run for governor in 2002 and would instead seek re-election to a third term.

The 46-year-old Republican official said a move by U.S. Rep. Steve Largent of Tulsa to corral support for the GOP gubernatorial primary ``was no factor'' in her decision.

Fallin said she made her decision over the weekend after talking to family members and kept it a secret, even from her staff.

Among other things, Fallin said she is primary guardian for her ailing mother, Mary Jo Copeland.

``I also am a single mom with two children, Price, who is 10, and Christina, who will turn 14 this month,'' Fallin said. ``When you combine all these family considerations, this particular moment is just, unfortunately, not the right time for me to be running for governor.''

Fallin said she had received many phone calls, e-mails and letters urging her to run for governor and felt she owed her supporters an early decision on her political plans.

She said she would have had no problem raising enough money for a governor's race.

Fallin had previously said she would like to succeed GOP Gov. Frank Keating, who is ending a second term.

``I do want to run for governor at some point in time,'' she said Thursday.

She said that as lieutenant governor, she would work to pass a proposed right-to-work referendum and continue to push for workers' compensation reform, smaller government and improvements in education.

``This is important work, but it's only just begun,'' she said.

After Largent visited the Capitol recently to talk to legislators about a possible statewide candidacy, Keating said the former pro football star would be a good candidate.

Since Keating did not mention Fallin, the remark drew complaints from the lieutenant governor's supporters. Keating later said he didn't mean to slight her.

Fallin said last week that she received a flood of telephone calls from people who challenged her to take on ``the good ol' boys'' and run for governor.

Largent is considered a strong candidate. The former star receiver with the Seattle Seahawks is an ally of religious conservatives, a powerful force in Oklahoma politics and has a strong base in Tulsa.

Fallin, who was divorced in 1998, is in her 11th year in political office. She served four years in the state House before seeking her state job.

State Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau Wynn has announced that she will run for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

Reneau Wynn said she entered the race to change Oklahoma's direction. She said wages are falling and the state's economic growth is still lagging behind other surrounding states.

``Oklahoma has been heading south for many years,'' she said. ``It's time to head north.''

``Those who also want to change will support Brenda Reneau Wynn. Those who are happy with the direction we're going will vote for Mary Fallin.''

Fallin said she was not sure who would be in the race.

``Right now I'm just concentrating on my own race,'' she said.

Former state Rep. Laura Boyd of Norman has said she will seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Boyd lost to Keating in the 1998 governor's race.

Largent has not formally announced that he will run for governor.

Republican Jim Denny, a political novice who is the father of two young Oklahoma City bombing survivors, has said he would like to run for governor.

State Treasurer Robert Butkin is among the Democrats considering the race for governor.