Last week, Palin gave a French-manicured thumbs-up to Mary Fallin.
On her Facebook page, Palin, in a bulk endorsement, explained, “Mary Fallin is another strong, smart conservative who I am proud to support. Mary is running for Governor of Oklahoma, and the Sooner State is fortunate to have her offer to serve in this new capacity. Mary’s another fiscal conservative with policy experience, political backbone, and real world knowledge that will serve the entire state well as she proves her mettle as Oklahoma’s next CEO.”
Added Palin, “Mary truly understands public service, and she served her state with distinction in Congress and as the first Republican and first female lieutenant governor in Oklahoma history.”
Palin has also endorsed two women who recently won Republican primaries — Carly Fiorina, who is running for the U.S. Senate in California, and Nikki Haley, who wants to be the next Governor of South Carolina. Cecile Bledsoe, who was campaigning for a congressional seat in Arkansas and was also supported by Palin, lost to Steve Womack, the Mayor of Rogers, Arkansas.
Reaction from Randy Brogdon, who is also running for Governor in Oklahoma and who was the first state Senator in 20 years to receive a score of 100 on the Oklahoma Conservative Vote Index, was swift. Wrote Brogdon in an e-mail that was distributed by his campaign, “It's perplexing why Gov. Palin, a self-described conservative, would endorse someone who supported the Wall Street Bailout and was key to adding hundreds of billions to the national debt. The simple truth is that an endorsement from Ronald Reagan himself wouldn't change the fact that Mary Fallin supports Big Government bailouts and pork barrel spending.” Brogdon, a Tenth Amendment champion, also stated: “Mary Fallin can line up endorsements until the cows come home, but at the end of the day it's the Oklahoma voters’ endorsement on July 27th that decides the election. And while Gov. Palin might not know who the true conservative is in the Governor's race, the people of Oklahoma do, and I plan to spread my conservative message to as many voters as possible in the upcoming weeks.”
Brogdon’s frustration is understandable. Love her or hate her, a nod from John McCain’s former running mate would have brought his campaign a certain je ne sais quoi. According to a recent Sooner Poll telephone survey, Fallin handily leads in the gubernatorial race, although Brodgon is a straw poll favorite, and he was enthusiastically endorsed by the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.
Is it hard to discern how Palin makes her selections? You betcha. While she is fond of mama grizzlies, she also endorsed Rand Paul, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky and is popular with Tea Party populists.
Brogdon, however, offers one clue, “It is obvious that Palin's endorsement (of Mary Fallin) is more about her bid for president in 2012 than supporting Oklahoma's values of limited government and controlled spending.”
Fallin’s overall Freedom Index rating for the 110th Congress was 62 percent, and for the 111th Congress it is 90 percent; Gun Owners of America gave her a grade of “A”; NumbersUSA’s Immigration Report Card gave Fallin a grade of “A”; the American Conservative Union gave her a score of “96”; and National Right to Life gave her 100 percent.
But the Oklahoma Constitution, a conservative newspaper, reports that among the Oklahoma congressional delegation, “Mary Fallin had the second-highest (Congressional Quarterly) score in support of [President Barack] Obama, backing Obama’s legislation 50 percent of the time.”
Fallin is, at best, a mixed bag. Principled on some issues near and dear to right-of-center voters, less so on others, but clearly committed, as befits the career politician and establishment Republican that she is, to seeing government as the tool of intervention, not as the problem. Fallin also has personal baggage from her days as Lieutenant Governor, when she was involved in a high-profile divorce and weathered accusations of a too-friendly relationship with a state trooper who was a member of her security detail.
Brogdon, conversely, who has 30-plus years as an entrepreneur and has been married for 37 years to his high-school sweetheart, brings private-sector sensibilities to his ideas about the proper role of government. He’s all about individual responsibility, personal liberty, and economic freedom. He proposed a measure to opt out of ObamaCare, has opposed the Real ID Act, and “stands with Arizona” — his way of saying he supports S.B. 1070.
Will Randy Brogdon's staunch constitutional message win over the hearts and minds of Sooner State voters? Or will the celebrity imprimatur of Sarah Palin seal the deal for Mary Fallin?
Oklahomans will conclusively provide answers to those questions next month.
Photo of Sarah Palin: AP Images