"Mary on the Move" is rolling into communities all across Oklahoma. That's the title of Governor Mary Fallin's re-election campaign push that hit the road Tuesday morning. It is a chance for the governor to promote her successes during the last three-and-a-half years in office.
"When we started office we had a 7% unemployment rate, not we're down to 4.5%, we had no money in our bank account; now we have over half-a-billion dollars in savings," the governor told Fox 25 before heading onto her specially outfitted RV for the campaign tour.
Earlier this year few political watchers would have deemed such a tour necessary and many thought there was no challenge to a second term for Governor Fallin. Then polls about the race emerged showing the race could be more of a challenge than expected.
"We've never taken this race for granted we do have a double digit lead we're going to continue to focus like we're just one point ahead," the governor said.
One poll by conducted by SoonerPoll for the Tulsa World showed the governor's favorability rating dropped in the past year and two national polls put the race between Fallin and Representative Joe Dorman closer than many political analysts thought it would be.
"I don't think anybody expected them [Fallin's poll numbers] to be in the 40s or even him [Dorman] to be within 10-15 points of her," Fox 25 political analyst Bobby Stem said, "I think because it happened the Fallin machine is going to have to start out sooner."
Stem has contributed to the Fallin campaign, but he has also been a past financial backer of Representative Dorman. Stem believes the Fallin campaign had planned to rollout a push for reelection after the Labor Day holiday, but that the recent polls may have pushed up their plans. He says now that both campaigns are in full swing those polls will likely change in Fallin's favor.
"I don't know a person that's ever met Joe that doesn't like Joe, but in all honesty he has some votes that are probably more liberal," Stem said.
Dorman will also face a financial hurdle. Fallin has a much larger campaign war chest to draw from and Dorman's campaign has been largely based on a grassroots effort to meet voters.
Stem says Dorman has benefited by being 'on the ground.' "Mary has been playing on such a national stage, that I don't know that she's been on the ground as much as other governors have been."
The governor says the point of the "Mary on the Move" tour is to take her message of the state's successes under her leadership to the voters. "We never take anything for granted," the governor said, "We think it's important you listen to the people and get out among the people."