Mary Fallin

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Mary Fallin
Mary Fallin.jpg
27th Governor of Oklahoma
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Lieutenant Todd Lamb
Preceded by Brad Henry
Chairperson of the National Governors Association
In office
August 4, 2013 – July 13, 2014
Preceded by Jack Markell
Succeeded by John Hickenlooper
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 5th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Ernest Istook
Succeeded by James Lankford
14th Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma
In office
January 9, 1995 – January 2, 2007
Governor Frank Keating
Brad Henry
Preceded by Jack Mildren
Succeeded by Jari Askins
Member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives
from the 85th district
In office
Preceded by Michael James Hunter
Succeeded by Odilia Dank
Personal details
Born Mary Copeland
(1954-12-09) December 9, 1954 (age 61)
Warrensburg, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1975)
Republican (1975–present)
Spouse(s) Joseph Fallin (1984–1998)
Wade Christensen (2009–present)
Residence Governor's Mansion
Alma mater Oklahoma Baptist University
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
Religion Church of God (Anderson)
Website Government website
Campaign website

Mary Fallin (born December 9, 1954) is an American politician who is the 27th and current governor of Oklahoma. A member of the Republican Party, Fallin was elected governor in 2010.

Born in Warrensburg, Missouri, Fallin is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Beginning her career working for a variety of multiple Oklahoma state government agencies for several years, in 1983 Fallin entered the private sector, becoming a regional hotel manager and a real estate broker.

Beginning a career in politics, Fallin was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1990. She served two terms in the Oklahoma House, representing a district in Oklahoma City, from 1990 to 1995. In 1994, Fallin was elected to serve as the 14th Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma; being elected to a total of three terms, she served under two different governors from 1995 to 2007. After seven-term Republican incumbent Ernest Istook announced that he would retire from his seat to run for governor, Fallin declared her candidacy for Oklahoma's 5th congressional district, where she was elected to two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 2007 to 2011.

In September 2009, Fallin announced her intention to run for the Republican nomination for governor of Oklahoma. She defeated three other opponents with 54% of the vote in the Republican primary, and defeated the Democratic nominee, Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, with 60% of the vote in the general election. She was sworn into office on January 10, 2011.

Fallin was the second woman elected to the United States Congress from Oklahoma; the first was Alice Mary Robertson, elected to Congress in 1921; she served for one term from 1921 to 1923. Fallin was the first Republican and first woman to serve as Oklahoma's lieutenant governor, as well as the first woman to be elected as governor in Oklahoma's state history.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Fallin was born Mary Copeland in Warrensburg, Missouri, the daughter of Mary Jo (née Duggan) and Joseph Newton Copeland.[1] It was a political family; her mother and father each served terms as mayor of Tecumseh, Oklahoma, where she was raised. They were both members of the Democratic Party of Oklahoma. She was a Democrat until she was 21. That year she switched to the Republican Party of Oklahoma and became active with the Young Republicans. She graduated from Tecumseh High School and attended Oklahoma Baptist University, in Shawnee. Fallin holds a bachelor of science degree in human and environmental sciences, and family relations and child development from Oklahoma State University (1977). At Oklahoma State she joined the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.[2]

After college, Fallin worked for the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, and the Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management. In 1983, she went to the private sector as a hotel manager for Lexington Hotel and Suites. She was also worked as a commercial real estate broker.[3]

Oklahoma House of Representatives[edit]


Fallin decided to run for the 85th district of the Oklahoma House of Representatives after incumbent Mike Hunter announced his retirement in December 1989. She won the Republican primary in August and the general election in November. In 1992, she won re-election to a second term unopposed.[4]


She represented Oklahoma City in the House. She authored 16 bills that became law. One notable bill was the Stalker Law for Oklahoma. Oklahoma was the second state, after California, to pass such legislation.

Fallin was active with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and was recognized by ALEC as Legislator of the Year in 1993. Also that year she was named Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business. According to The Almanac of American Politics, she "championed victims’ rights and health care reform."[5]

Committee assignments[edit]

Lieutenant Governor (1995–2007)[edit]


After two terms in the House, Fallin decided to run for Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. Ultimately she ran in three elections that year, all of which were against other women, and raised about $200,000. She faced two other candidates in the Republican primary. Terry Neese ranked first with 38% of the vote, but failed to reach the 50% threshold needed to win outright. Fallin ranked second with 36% of the vote, qualifying for the run-off election.[6] She defeated Neese in the run-off primary election 53%–47%.[7] She defeated Democrat Nance Diamond 50%–44%. She did well in the northwest region, the Oklahoma Pandhandle, and her home Oklahoma County. [8]

She won re-election to a second term in 1998, defeating Jack Morgan 68%–32%. She won all but nine counties, all of which were located in the far eastern part of the state.[9] She won re-election to a third term in 2002, defeating Democrat State Representative Laura Boyd 57%–39%, dominating the eastern part of the state.[10]


In 1995, Fallin became Oklahoma’s first woman and first Republican to be elected to the position. As lieutenant governor, Fallin served as president of the Oklahoma Senate and on ten boards and commissions. In the Cabinet-level position of small business advocate during the Keating administration, Fallin fought the rising cost of health insurance and excessive government regulation. Fallin was also instrumental in initiating several economic development events including the first-ever Oklahoma Aerospace Summit and Expo, Small Business Day, and Telecommunications Day. She also hosted the Lieutenant Governor’s Invitational Turkey Hunt.

In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, she formed a task force to rebuild the childcare center lost in the disaster. Fallin also initiated Project Homesafe, a gun safety program that has distributed more than 80,000 free cable gun locks to Oklahomans.

U.S. House of Representatives (2007–2011)[edit]



Fallin decided not to seek re-election to a fourth term as lieutenant governor. Instead, she decided to run in Oklahoma's 5th congressional district, after incumbent Republican congressman Ernest Istook decided to run for governor of Oklahoma. Fallin also considered running for governor and challenging incumbent Democrat Brad Henry. She said, "I was not going to run against an incumbent governor. Governor Henry had and was and is popular and I knew what the poll numbers were. I didn’t always agree with him on all the issues but that’s why we’re in different political parties. There were things that I would have done differently."[3] Istook lost by a landslide of 33 percentage points.[11]

The July 25 Republican primary for the 5th district featured six candidates. Fallin received 35% of the vote. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett finished second with 24% of the vote.[12][13] The contest between her and Cornett was about fundraising. They had few differences on the issues, but Fallin had a big cash advantage. On August 22, 2006, she defeated Cornett in the run-off primary election, 63%–37%.[14]

Fallin won the general election on November 7, defeating Democrat Paul David Hunter 60%–40%.[15][16]


Fallin easily won re-election in 2008, defeating Democrat Steve Perry 66%–34%.[17]


She is the first woman elected to Congress from Oklahoma since 1921. Alice Mary Robertson was the first woman to be elected to U.S. Congress from Oklahoma. She resigned her office on January 2, 2007 in order to be sworn into Congress on January 4, 2007. Lieutenant Governor-elect Jari Askins was appointed by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry to fill the remaining days of Fallin's term.

The 5th district included just three counties: Oklahoma, Pottawatomie, and Seminole. In addition to her committee assignments, she served on the Executive Committee of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Small Business Chair on the Republican Policy Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Congressional Women’s Caucus.

In June 2007, she passed her first bill: a revamping of federal grants for women’s business centers. She joined a group of 38 Republicans who opposed an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In July 2008, she traveled to Alaska to help make the case for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).[5]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • Congressional Women’s Caucus (Vice Chair)

2010 gubernatorial election[edit]

Incumbent Governor of Oklahoma Brad Henry was easily re-elected in 2006. In 2008, Republicans made gains in the state legislature and took control of both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate for the first time in Oklahoma history. Governor Henry was unable to seek reelection to a third consecutive four-year term, because of term limits placed on him by the Oklahoma Constitution.

By September 2009, Fallin, along with four other candidates had announced their intentions to run for governor to succeed Henry. Along with Fallin they were:

Fallin won the Republican nomination with 136,460 votes and defeated her nearest challenger, State Senator Randy Brogdon, who won 98,159 votes. Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Fallin in the primary. On November 2, 2010, Fallin defeated Democratic nominee Jari Askins 60% to 39%. She is the first female governor of Oklahoma.

Governor of Oklahoma (2011–present)[edit]


On election night, after it became apparent that Fallin had won the election, Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Kevin Ward dispatched Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers to begin providing security and protection to her. As the governor-elect, the Oklahoma Office of State Finance made available to her transition funding and other government services. The Transition established as the official website of the Transition and established as the official website of Fallin's Inauguration.

Fallin began the transition on November 3 by holding a joint press conference with outgoing governor Brad Henry.[18] In the press conference, Governor Henry announced that he would make available to Fallin office space in the Oklahoma State Capitol for her to use as the headquarters for her transition team.

Fallin named Devon Energy Chairman and CEO Larry Nichols as the Chairman of her Transition Team. She also named (then) outgoing Oklahoma Senate President pro tempore Glenn Coffee (R-Tulsa) as the Transition's Co-Chairman. Fallin named Lieutenant Governor-elect Todd Lamb as her Administration's Small Business Advocate, a position Fallin herself once held under former governor Frank Keating. She also established her Governor's Taskforce on Economic Development to advise her on matter related to the economy. Members of that task force include BancFirst CEO David Rainbolt and former Walters Administration Secretary of Agriculture Gary Sherrer. Former Keating Administration Secretary of Energy Robert J. Sullivan, Jr. serves as the director of the Taskforce as the Special Advisor to the Governor on Economic Development.[19]

First year[edit]

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the University Center in Ponca City, Oklahoma on July 12, 2011

Fallin assumed office as governor on January 10, 2011. Before the end of January, Fallin had named the four remaining cabinet secretaries in her administration. She named the following:

In late January, following a heated Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting, Fallin proposed major changes to the Oklahoma State Department of Education's organization and structure. The controversy arose over the Board of Education rejecting three senior staff members of Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi. Under Fallin's proposed changes, the Board would be stripped of its administrative powers and those powers would be transferred solely to the state superintendent, thus reducing the board to more of an advisory committee to the superintendent as opposed to a government body of the department.[20]

On February 7, Fallin addressed the Oklahoma Legislature in her first State of the State Address. In her address, Fallin called for streamlining and modernizing the State government, reforming education, and reducing health care costs in the State. She also presented her 2012 Oklahoma state budget spending request for considering by the legislature. She proposed to make up the $400 million budget deficit through a combination of a 5% across-the-board agency budget cuts, increased tax enforcement, state agency consolidations, and government modernization to overcome the budget shortfall.

Fallin was criticized for bias after ordering state-owned National Guard facilities to deny spousal benefits to all same-sex couples.[21]

FALLIN: Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.[22]

In response, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that this violates the states' obligations under federal law.

HAGEL: All spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them. But several states today are refusing to issue these IDs to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities. Not only does this violate the states’ obligations under federal law, but their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they’re entitled to.[23]

Lethal injection controversy[edit]

Under Fallin, Oklahoma has pushed for increased use of lethal injection as a means of ending life in capital punishment, while refusing to release details of the new chemical concoctions used in these executions following chemical company Hospira's decision to stop producing sodium thiopental, which had previously been widely used. Fallin pushed strongly for the execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett to proceed in spite of the lack of tested drugs to use for lethal injection. When the Oklahoma State Supreme Court granted a stay of execution, Fallin immediately overruled it, leading some political commentators to raise the possibility of a constitutional crisis surrounding the separation of powers. At the same time, a member of the Oklahoma legislature moved to impeach the seven justices on the Supreme Court who had granted the stay.[24][25] Lockett's execution was attempted on April 29, 2014, and was abandoned when he could not be sedated and was left writhing in pain. After Lockett died 43 minutes later of a heart attack, Governor Mary Fallin appointed a member of her own staff to lead the investigation into the botched execution.[26] Robert Patton, her director of corrections, resigned, and despite an Oklahoma conflict of interest law, was hired as a deputy warden by GEO Group whose contract he had overseen. Oklahoma State Prison warden Anita Trammel also resigned during the investigation.[27][28][29]

Personal life[edit]


In early December 1998, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol bodyguard for Fallin resigned after admitting to unprofessional conduct. The Fallins had filed for divorce the previous week, amid allegations by her estranged husband that she had an affair with a bodyguard.[30][31]

Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks issued a statement saying that rumors had surfaced in early September about alleged unprofessional conduct between a member of the executive security detail and the lieutenant governor. According to Ricks, the trooper first denied the allegations, but, when questioned again in October, admitted to the improprieties. He was allowed to resign, but his admission did not say if any sexual activity was involved.[32]


Fallin has two children from her first marriage, Christina Fallin and Price Fallin. She married Wade Christensen in November 2009.[33][34]


Fallin has been honored with numerous awards, including Women in Communications' Woman in the News Award, induction into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame, Clarence E. Page Award, induction into the Oklahoma Aviation Hall of Fame, 1998 Woman of the Year in Government and 1993 Legislator of the Year.


In August 2013, Newsmax magazine named Fallin among the "25 most influential women in the GOP".[35]

In May 2014, MSNBC named Fallin one of the worst governors in the United States. [36]

Election history[edit]

November 4, 2014, Governor of Oklahoma election results
Candidates Party Votes %
  Joe Dorman Democratic Party 338,239 41%
  Mary Fallin Republican Party 460,298 56%
  Kimberly Wallis Independent 17,169 2.1%
  Richard Prawdzienski Independent 9,125 1%
Total 824,831 100%
Source: 2014 |-

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mary Fallin ancestry". Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b "Oral history interview with Mary Fallin". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK State House 085 Race – Nov 03, 1992". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Login". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK Lt. Governor – R Primary Race – Aug 23, 1994". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK Lt. Governor – R Runoff Race – Sep 20, 1994". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK Lt. Governor Race – Nov 08, 1994". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK Lt. Governor Race – Nov 03, 1998". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK Lt. Governor Race – Nov 05, 2002". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK Governor Race – Nov 07, 2006". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK District 5 – R Primary Race – Jul 25, 2006". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Primary Election". July 26, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Runoff Primary Election". August 22, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK – District 05 Race – Nov 07, 2006". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  16. ^ "General Election". ok.gob. Oklahoma State Election Board. November 7, 2006. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Our Campaigns – OK – District 05 Race – Nov 04, 2008". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  18. ^ Fallin prepares to Oklahoma's governor, The Oklahoman, Michael McNutt, 11-3-10
  19. ^ Fallin Transition Team, Office of Governor-elect Mary Fallin, 11-30-10
  20. ^ Governor Fallin Issues Statement on Obstructionist Tactics of State Board of Education, Office of Governor Fallin, January 27, 2011
  21. ^ "Oklahoma National Guard Acts on Same Sex Benefits: New Policy Protects Oklahoma Constitution and Oklahoma Laws". Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Oklahoma Drops National Guard Benefits For All Couples To Avoid Serving Same-Sex Couples". ThinkProgress. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  23. ^ NewsRadio KRMG, "Fallin: OK will no longer process benefits for National Guard couples", November 20, 2013, [2]. Retrieved November 23, 2013
  24. ^ "Mary Fallin is responsible for Clayton Lockett’s botched execution: The Oklahoma governor wanted his death.". Slate. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  25. ^ Fretland, Katie (April 23, 2014). "Oklahoma court lifts stay of executions, heading off confrontation with governor". The Guardian. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin boasts far-right record". MSNBC. May 1, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  27. ^ Oklahoma Prisons chief who presided over botched executions resigns amid investigation, Talking Points Memo, Sean Murphy, December 5, 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  28. ^ Oklahoma department of corrections director Robert Patton resigns, Tulsa World, December 2015, Samantha Vincent. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  29. ^ Did corrections chief's new job violate state law?, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, December 23, 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  30. ^ Godfrey, Ed. "Ex-Bodyguard Denies Having Affair With Fallin". Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  31. ^ Raymond, Ken. Mary Fallin campaigns on experience, issues and charm, The Oklahoman, September 26, 2010 (accessed May 16, 2013)
  32. ^ "Court brief alleges Fallin consulted psychic". Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Mary Fallin, Wade Christensen wed in Oklahoma City". NewsOK. November 22, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Mary Fallin, Wade Christensen wed in Oklahoma City", The Oklahoman, November 22, 2009.
  35. ^ Meyers, Jim. "Newsmax Exclusive: The 25 Influential Women of the GOP". Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  36. ^

External links[edit]

U.S. Congress (2007–2011)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Terry Neese
Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma
1994, 1998, 2002
Succeeded by
Todd Hiett
Preceded by
Ernest Istook
Republican nominee for Governor of Oklahoma
2010, 2014
Current holder
Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Mildren
Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma
Succeeded by
Jari Askins
Preceded by
Brad Henry
Governor of Oklahoma
Preceded by
Jack Markell
Chairperson of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
John Hickenlooper
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ernest Istook
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
James Lankford
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Oklahoma
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gary Herbert
as Governor of Utah
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Oklahoma
Succeeded by
Susana Martinez
as Governor of New Mexico