Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt Defeats State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister

The Republican incumbent avoids being the first Okie governor seeking reelection to lose since 1974.
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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) was projected to win reelection Tuesday, easily overcoming a robust bid from state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt was projected to win a second term, turning back challenger Joy Hofmeister, the chief of the state's public schools, who had switched to the Democratic Party.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt was projected to win a second term, turning back challenger Joy Hofmeister, the chief of the state's public schools, who had switched to the Democratic Party.
Associated Press

Though the state has a reputation for being deeply conservative, giving Donald Trump 65% of its presidential vote in 2020, for example, Hofmeister had raised hopes for an underdog victory by attacking Stitt over a series of ethics scandals and accusing him of wanting to shutter rural schools because of his support for school vouchers.

With 509 independent school districts in the state’s 77 counties, the attack led Stitt to post a video on Twitter extolling his support for rural schools.

But Stitt, who became wealthy after founding a mortgage company, also fought back, calling Hofmeister a hostage to special interests because of outside “dark money” spent on her behalf and dipping into his own bank account to lend his campaign $1.9 million.

Joy Hofmeister, the Democratic candidate for Oklahoma governor, had built a political coalition centered on schoolteachers and Native American tribes.
Joy Hofmeister, the Democratic candidate for Oklahoma governor, had built a political coalition centered on schoolteachers and Native American tribes.
Associated Press

In the closing week of the campaign, he also aired an ad attacking Hofmeister for saying she supported sanctuary cities and linked her to President Joe Biden, saying she was soft on immigration.

Hofmeister had stitched together a coalition built around teachers upset over a school voucher bill but also many of the state’s 39 federally recognized Native American tribes, who felt Stitt didn’t respect their sovereignty.

The five biggest — the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Choctaw, Chickasaw and Great Seminole nations — issued an unprecedented joint endorsement of Hofmeister.

Hofmeister’s fight was an uphill one. No Oklahoma governor who sought reelection had lost since 1974. In that case, Democratic Gov. David Hall was indicted three days after leaving office for violating anti-racketeering laws while in office.

The Oklahoma Legislature is dominated by Republicans. Prior to Tuesday’s election, the GOP held an 82-18 margin in the House and a 39-9 majority in the Senate.

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