Republican nominee U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin and Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins discussed the measures that are on the November ballot before nearly 350 people at the Rotary Club of Tulsa's weekly luncheon. It is one of the few moderated discussions in which both candidates have participated since each won her party's nomination in the July 27 primary.
The two candidates, who greeted each other with a friendly hug, agreed on most of the measures.
But Askins said she opposed a question to require voters to present a photo ID at the polls, saying there are adequate safeguards already in place and that the measure targets mostly older citizens without a driver's license. Fallin said she supported it.
The two also disagreed on whether to allow legislative leaders to add appointees to the commission that nominates Oklahoma judges. Fallin said she supports “more eyes” on the nominating commission, but Askins, a former special district judge, disagreed.
“Right now it is not a politicized process,” Askins said. Adding appointees from the leader of the House and Senate would “allow politics to enter into it,” she said.
Both candidates oppose State Question 744, which requires more spending on common education, and both expressed reservations about a companion measure designed to counteract it — SQ 754.
“I am for the concept of 754,” said Fallin, who stopped short of endorsing it. “I might have to take a closer look at this.”
Both support a proposal to make English the official state language and another to allow the state to “opt out” of the new federal health care law by prohibiting forced participation in any health care plan.
“There may be some parts of it I like,” Askins said of federal language on transferring health coverage between jobs, pre-existing health conditions and extending dependent coverage. “But any way you put the pencil to it, it costs the state of Oklahoma too much.”
Askins said she opposes a ballot measure to forbid Oklahoma judges from relying on international law or Islamic law when deciding cases.
“The last time I remember looking at my old notes from law school, most of America's jurisprudence system was based on England and jurisprudence there, so I think we need to be, really, smarter, about how we phrase some of these things,” Askins said.
Fallin said she initially supported the question, but conceded there could be unintended consequences.
“I'm a reasonable person,” Fallin said, “and I want to take a close look at it, and I think all of us should.”
During a series of questions on the state budget, education and transportation infrastructure, Fallin elected to answer questions on the issues more broadly, while Askins offered more specific details of what she would do if elected governor.
In dealing with an expected budget shortfall next year, for example, Askins referred to her plan of shifting to a two-year budgeting cycle and including more lawmakers in the budget process.
Fallin continued to hammer the talking points of her campaign — creating more jobs through lower taxes and other “business friendly” policies that will ultimately boost the state's economy.
“That's why focusing on creating the very best business climate possible for our state is my top priority,” Fallin said.
Askins and Fallin are leaving relatively safe seats to seek the open governor's post, which Democratic Gov. Brad Henry is vacating because of term limits. The winner will become Oklahoma's first female governor.