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Askins reflects on her defeat, calls campaign “exhilarating”

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent who caucuses with Democrats in the U.S. Senate, visits with Lt. Gov. Jari Askins at last week’s gala fundraiser for the Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning. Photo by Patrick B. McGuigan

Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins says, “The experience of running for statewide office was exhilarating.

“That experience is about the people. I met people in all parts of Oklahoma for more than a year. Connecting and reconnecting with the people was something I’ll never forget. It reaffirmed my faith in Oklahoma.”

Askins ran hard in her contest with Mary Fallin, and remained competitive in campaign expenditures through the end.

But in last week’s election, Fallin soared to a 20% advantage. In January, she will become the state’s first female governor.

As for Askins, on Nov. 3, she “was at work today by 9 a.m. It will be same thing tomorrow. I have some calls to make and a lot of work to do.

“I called Todd Lamb and he came by Wednesday afternoon. We had a good meeting and talked about things. We will both work to assure the transition is as smooth as possible. I have known him for years and, of course, we worked together in my role as president of the Senate.”

CapitolBeatOK spoke with Askins before a gala fundraiser for the Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning. The stand-up interview was frequently interrupted with well-wishers stopping to hug Askins or kiss her on the cheek. When she was introduced before the event, the crowd responded with a sustained ovation.

Despite the astonishing margin of her defeat, Askins was actually stronger than several of the other statewide Democratic candidates. Given the nature of the electoral mood this year, CapitolBeatOK wonders if the 2010 election was ever “winnable,” even for a respected Democrat such as Jari Askins.

Askins responded this way: “Clearly I thought it was do-able. I knew for quite awhile that the push back against Washington, D.C. would be there.

“When I was announced in 2009, the feelings were not as intense, but of course they hadn’t yet done all the things that later aggravated people.

“We just hadn’t yet experienced, or yet seen, some of what came in the year after I announced. Clearly the actions in Washington made the people here angry.”

In the general election, “The impact was from top-to-bottom. When you look at the base vote for Republicans, a lot of that came from straight ticket voting. It affected everything, from the level of district attorneys on up. It took out sitting representatives and senators and swept into the open seats.

“Straight-ticket voting had a big effect this year.”

Askins smiled and concluded: “Well, I just couldn’t convince the people of Oklahoma that the ‘D’ after my name stood for Duncan.”

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