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Dorman: 'We Did A Lot Of Good' In 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign

Kate Carlton Greer
'Dorman For Governor' supporters load yard signs into a trailer at Rep. Joe Dorman's Oklahoma City campaign headquarters

When state Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) fought back his emotions and addressed friends and family in a standing-room only hotel conference room on Election Night, he urged Oklahomans to stay positive in the face of defeat.

“I don't want to see any tears. I don't want to see any sorrows," Dorman said. "We did a lot of good. We knew we were up against tough odds running against an incumbent. And I appreciate each and everyone one of you."

A 'Better Than Expected' Run

Dorman lost to Gov. Mary Fallin by 15 percentage points, and considering the state representative started his campaign less than a year ago, he calls the closeness of the race a success.

“We did much better than any of the pundits expected," Dorman said. "We did much better than many casual observers saw.”

He’s right about that. A lot of people, including Oklahoma Watch’s M. Scott Carter, doubted Dorman’s success initially.

“I remember talking to Joe Dorman in January, and I told him he was insane for running. I said, ‘Mary Fallin's quite popular; she's got all sorts of money. You're just going to go out there and get trounced.’ I had to apologize for that,” Carter said on a recent episode of KGOU’s Oklahoma Voices.

Fighting Against An Albatross

Dorman raised about $1.6 million without any help from the Democratic National Committee. But even though he raised that much in 11 months, Fallin was fundraising for four years, allowing her to fill people’s TVs with ads linking Dorman to President Obama.

Dorman says those ads were too difficult to overcome, even though he’s never met the president. The incumbent’s rhetoric was just too substantial.

“There's such a strong animosity toward the president, especially here in Oklahoma, it not only impacted my race, but probably every other race where there was some type of association,” Dorman said. “I know there were people out there that did not know me that it did impact their decision.”

Persistent Positivity

But the term-limited state representative from Rush Springs refuses to sound discouraged. As we sat on his oversized couch on the second level of his old fire station-turned campaign headquarters in Oklahoma City, people were downstairs packing up yard signs, big and small, into a trailer. The race had to end eventually, he says, and he’s just glad he brought forward issues important to him.

“I expect that there will be some positive changes, and I know that our campaign and our efforts led to many of those positive changes," Dorman said.

Changes like new policies for public education. In Fallin’s acceptance speech last week, she not only mentioned the strength of Oklahoma’s economy, she also touched on boosting Oklahoma’s educational standards.

“We're going to work on creating a stronger, educated workforce in the state of Oklahoma,” Fallin announced on Election Night.

And Dorman sees that brief sentiment as a sign of progress.

“We saw her change course on standards. We saw her change course on high-stakes tests throughout the campaign,” Dorman said. “She switched her positions for the better, and I am certainly going to be around to make sure she lives up to those commitments.”

Dorman jokes that he has the cell phone numbers of most current legislators, and that he’s not afraid to call them up daily to check in since he won’t hold office there anymore.

He is still very unsure of what his future holds. Public service, of course, but Dorman says it’s time to update his resume and see where he can win interviews.


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