Hunter Squeaks By; It’s Stitt versus Edmondson

Kevin Stitt, the owner of a Tulsa-area mortgage
service company, captured the GOP
nod for the governor’s race last week.The
political newcomer finished well ahead of his opponent,
Mick Cornett. Stitt received 54.6 percent
of the vote to Cornett’s 45.4 percent. Stitt now
goes on to face Democrat Drew Edmondson and
Libertarian Chris Powell in the general election in
In his concession speech, Cornett, the former
mayor of Oklahoma City, thanked his supporters,
and added he had “nothing but positive memories
about this entire run.” Ending things on a positive
note, Cornett said he is “still optimistic about
the state of Oklahoma.” But after seventeen years
in public service, Cornett said he’s hanging his
hat up for good. “There’s a really good chance my
name will never be on another political ballot,”
said Cornett.

The Democratic Governor’s Association issued
a statement blasting Stitt.“It only took Republicans an extra two months
of nasty party infighting to choose a candidate
in the mold of failed Governor Mary Fallin,” said
executive director Elisabeth Pearson. “Kevin Stitt
is little more than a corrupt businessman who
preyed on innocent people as CEO at one of the
‘shadiest’ mortgage companies in the country. Not
only would Stitt bring a special brand of corruption
to the governor’s mansion, he would double
down on Fallin’s failed policies and undermine
Oklahoma’s future.”
Oklahoma’s education system, Pearson said, has
been left behind by the Fallin agenda. “Cuts have
forced schools into four-day weeks and educators
to take on up to six jobs. Stitt has promised to
closely follow in the footsteps of the Fallin education
plan—a disastrous prospect for Oklahoma’s
children. Despite Oklahoma teachers ranking
as some of the worst paid in the country, Stitt
refused to support the raise they so desperately
needed. Oklahomans deserve a governor who will
prioritize Oklahoma and invest in its future.”
Matt Pinnell won the GOP nomination for
Lieutenant Governor in a landslide victory. Pinnell’s
58 percent of the vote easily bested Dana
Murphy’s 41.9 percent. Cindy Byrd claimed the
Republican nomination for State Auditor after a
narrow victory margin of just under 1,000 votes.
Even closer was the race for the GOP nomination
for Attorney General.

In a surprise concession the day after the election
night, Gentner Drummond opted against a
recount of the vote. Drummond bowed out of the
race down only 269 votes out of nearly 300,000. In
calling for unity, Drummond said that a recount
would simply serve as a distraction to voters. “To
my opponent, Mr. Hunter, I want to say congratulations
on the hard-fought victory and I wish you
the very best of luck in November,” said Drummond
in a Tulsa press conference. Mike Hunter
will now face Oklahoma City Democrat Mark
Myles in the November general election.
Democrat Kendra Horn captured her party’s
nomination for the state’s fifth congressional
district Tuesday. Horn will face incumbent Steve
Russell in the November general election.
In the race for Tulsa District Attorney, Republican
incumbent Steve Kunzweiler bested his opponent
Ben Fu. A former colleague of Kunzweiler’s,
Fu had secured endorsements from two Tulsa-area
police fraternities. Kunzweiler will now face the
Democratic nominee Jenny Proehl-Day, a private
attorney, in November.
Many incumbents lost Tuesday evening. In
House District 101, incumbent Republican Tess
Teague was defeated by Robert Manger 43 percent
to 57 percent. In Cleveland County unofficial returns
show Rep. Bobby Cleveland losing to his opponent,
Sherrie Conley, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Overall, voter turnout was down across the state.
At Southern Hills Baptist Church precinct
workers said turnout at their location was “pretty
slow.” Dale Jones, a former Oklahoma City Community
College student, said the attack ads in the
attorney general’s race left a bad taste in his mouth.
“I wasn’t thrilled by the negative ads, but if both
candidates put out negative ads, then you have to
find the truth and do a little more fact checking.”
At the Hillcrest family center voting station,
Rhonda Torbett cast her vote with concerns. “It
is time there was some ‘fresh blood’ in the office,”
Torbett said, emphasizing her disappointment in
how Cornett had been running things.
Precinct worker Regina Dyer urged young
voters to go to the polls. “It is one of the most
important things we can do in the United States,”
Dyer said. “I wish more people would have come
out.” The precinct reported that only 137 out of
1,000 potential voters actually cast a vote. Striking
a similar tune were precinct workers at OCCC’s
Leftwich Memorial Library, one of whom said the
precinct “would be lucky to see one twelfth of its
registered voters.”
Like Torbett, the low turnout may point to the
dissatisfaction of voters on how campaigns were
Dana Glencross, a professor of political science
at OCCC, thinks the kind of rampant attack ads
seen this election cycle hurt the process overall.
“It’s interesting; people remember 80 to 90 percent
of an attack ad,” Glencross said. But once that’s all
voters see, “they eventually start to question: is this
“A lot of people don’t know this, but ‘libel’
doesn’t apply to political campaigns. You can say
anything, and hope something sticks,” Glencross
said. “There’s no doubt that it does harm…but voters
need to realize that’s the new politics.”
Former OCCC student and Navy veteran Dale
Jones, voting at Southern Hills Baptist Church,
stated that familiarity with the candidate was
a driving factor in who he voted for. He also
commented on the negativity of the campaigns.
“Generally, negative ads steer me away from their
candidate,” Jones said. No matter how the vote
turns out, Jones reasoned, “If you don’t vote, you
have no reason to complain.”
Oklahoma voters will return to the polls again
in November for the general election.

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