Conservatives: Look to the states, Oklahoma edition

Written by . Posted in 2013 Elections, 2014 Campaigns

Published on October 18, 2013

CaptureShould Republicans in Washington look to governors like Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin as their model for success?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported a poll they took of various politicians and political bodies during the “shutdown.” Many on the Right may be dismayed and surprised to learn that President Obama is up in popularity, while Speaker Boehner and Senator Ted Cruz are both down and the Republican Party is at a record low. Obama’s rise in the polls may be explained by the “Limbaugh Theorem,” but the latter case seems odd, especially since the electorate has gotten more conservative recently in terms of policy views.

NRO’s Kevin D. Williamson has attempted to make sense of this paradox, suggesting that it “may be explained in part by the fact that the American public’s increasingly conservative views are not associated with an increased sense of identification with the Republican party.” However, he does note what Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has pointed out more than once: The GOP has had much more success at the state level. The party holds 30 governorships. As the answer for what ails the Republican Party might be found there, it may be beneficial to examine the accomplishments of some of these governors.

Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin has turned an emergency fund literally amounting to pocket change into a $600 million reserve – this fiscal responsibility at a time when even Republicans in D.C. are apprehensive about a temporary shutdown of 17 percent of the federal government. Fallin, the first woman to serve as governor of Oklahoma, made the difficult cuts to education, health, human services and public safety, as well as other agencies, to make up for the $400 million deficit she inherited.

While preparing her state for looming sequester cuts, she said, “”In Oklahoma, we faced a budget shortfall of over $500 million in 2011 – nearly ten percent of our total budget… We balanced our budget. There is no reason the federal government cannot do the same.”

Governor Fallin has shown a willingness to stand up to Washington in other areas as well. Oklahoma also became the second state (after Indiana) to receive an extension for its own health care insurance program, Insure Oklahoma, after she rejected the Medicaid extension included under Obamacare.

Most controversially, she blocked the processing of requests for military benefits for same-sex couples by the National Guard, arguing that she was following the wishes of Oklahomans, who had passed a ban on gay marriage in the state.

Despite a move like that that is so unpopular with liberals, even The Daily Beast, the left-leaning site, said that she handled the tornado disasters well.

Not satisfied with what she has gotten done so far, Governor Fallin is pushing for tax reform that would cut the income tax rate for the top bracket from 5.25% to 5%, adding “this is not the last tax cut we will see from my administration.”

In contrast to the Obama administrations actions on energy, Fallin put together an energy conference to discuss how to stimulate an “oil and gas renaissance” as part of a comprehensive “all the above” plan, which includes hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, coal-powered electricity, compressed natural gas vehicles, solar and wind power. Unwilling to simply complain about the state of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in this country, she has similarly organized a summit to advance those fields in Oklahoma.

Governor Fallin is just one of many governors who have actually implemented conservative policy recommendations. At a time when Washington provides few encouraging leaders, it’s time to look elsewhere, like the states.