EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin tethered her campaign to those of two popular Republicans on Tuesday, hoping to benefit from the star power of an incumbent U.S. senator and a congressman who swept through a six-man primary for another Senate seat without a runoff.
At a rally in suburban Oklahoma City, with another one set Tuesday night in Tulsa, the three called themselves the "dream team" and launched what they called "victory tours" two months ahead of the Nov. 4 election.
"We can't take these races for granted," Fallin said at the daytime rally, which drew 50 people to a meeting room at the University of Central Oklahoma.
The Democratic Party of Oklahoma released a statement following the rally, saying is it premature and optimistic to host a victory tour.
Races involving Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. James Lankford top the ballot this fall. Inhofe was re-elected in 2008 with 57 percent of the vote; Lankford swept through a crowded GOP primary, taking 57 percent of the vote to win the nomination for a U.S. Senate seat held by Tom Coburn, who is leaving office two years early. The state hasn't elected a Democrat to an open U.S. Senate seat since 1978.
Surprisingly competitive is the race for governor, which pits Fallin against Democratic state Rep. Joe Dorman of Rush Springs.
The Sooner Poll, conducted by the University of Oklahoma for the Tulsa World newspaper, showed in June that Fallin's popularity had dropped nearly 20 points from a year earlier. Another poll showed Fallin with only a single-digit lead over Dorman, four years after she beat then-Lt. Gov. Jari Askins by 20 points to become governor.
In her remarks to the crowd, Fallin spoke extensively about her tour of Fort Sill with Inhofe recently after the base, among others, began accepting hundreds of immigrant children from Central America who had crossed the border illegally.
She said pressure that she and Inhofe imposed on President Barack Obama's administration forced the federal government to stop using the fort to shelter children. When the lodging plan was announced, the Department of Health and Human Services said it expected the fort to be used for up to four months. Children were at the military base for two months.
Fallin, who is chairwoman of the National Governors Association, has faced some criticism for wavering on issues.
She announced shortly after taking office that the state would accept a $54 million federal grant to create a health insurance exchange for uninsured Oklahoma residents under the Affordable Care Act. She later rejected the grant after conservatives who opposed the law voiced objections.
After last year's tornado at Moore, which killed seven children in their school, she was among Republicans who voiced concern over an initiative to build safe rooms and tornado shelters in public schools, using a $500 million bond issue. She said it would cost too much. Legislators later rejected her separate proposal to let some school districts raise property taxes locally to pay for shelters.
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