Republican Stitt wins Oklahoma governor's race

Incumbent Republican Kevin Stitt overcame a late-campaign rally by Democrat Joy Hofmeister to win the Oklahoma Governor’s race on Tuesday.

With 89% of precincts reporting, Stitt had 56.35% of the vote to Hofmeister’s 40.85%, according to unofficial results posted by the Oklahoma State Election Board. Ervin Stone, an independent, and Natalie Bruno, a Libertarian, garnered a combined 2.8% of the vote.

Stitt gained more than 70% of the vote in many rural counties. Hofmeister won only three of Oklahoma’s 77 counties – Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), Cleveland County and Tulsa County.

A poll by Tomahawk Strategies had Hofmeister with a three percentage-point lead last week, but another poll by Ascend Action had Stitt leading by the same margin. Both polls had a margin of error of approximately four points.

Stitt was expected to easily defeat Hofmeister, but several media outlets reported the Republican Governors Association purchased a seven-figure advertising campaign during the last few weeks. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, held a rally for Stitt in Oklahoma and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced support.

Stitt graduated from Oklahoma State University and founded Gateway Mortgage, a nationwide lending company, in Tulsa before becoming governor in 2018. Stitt’s campaign focused on Oklahoma lowering costs to attract businesses and improving public education and public safety. He also promoted health care reform and transforming Medicaid into a private-public model.

Stitt is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the second Native American to be elected as a governor in the United States. However, he clashed with Oklahoma’s Native American tribes over the state’s gambling agreement. It led to leaders of the state’s five largest tribes endorsing Hofmeister.

Hofmeister, who switched parties last year as she announced her candidacy for governor, attempted to be the first Democrat to win statewide office since Brad Henry served two consecutive terms as governor and left office in 2011. She was elected superintendent of public instruction in 2014 and made education the focus of her campaign.

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