OKLAHOMA CITY — Voters on Tuesday handed Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt a second four-year term.
“Folks, the past year we ran on the record of limited government, lower taxes and traditional family values,” Stitt told a crowd at the Republican watch party in Oklahoma City. “On this campaign, we talk a lot about the Oklahoma turnaround from budget deficits to record surpluses.”
With 100% of the vote in, Stitt had 55.45% of the vote, defeating Democrat Joy Hofmeister, who had 41.78%; and Libertarian Natalie Bruno and Ervin Yen, an independent and former Republican state senator from Oklahoma City, both of whom drew less than 1.5% of the votes.
Speaking to supporters Tuesday night at the Oklahoma History Center, Hofmeister said she called Stitt to congratulate him on a second term and offered her support moving forward.
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“If we’ve learned anything, we know that preparing our next generation takes consistent tending and focus, regardless of an election year,” she said. “Let’s keep driving for every opportunity and resource that Oklahoma’s children deserve.”
Stitt’s victory came as millions of dollars in dark money ads targeted him for scandals during his first term. Mailers also criticized him for signing some of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation.
“Today, dark money lost and the people of Oklahoma won,” Stitt said, adding that Oklahomans knew the truth.
“Tonight’s victory is a resounding rejection of the secret, dishonest tactics in Oklahoma politics and a rejection of every one of them that deployed them,” Stitt said. “In the end, truth won tonight.”
Stitt dramatically outpaced Hofmeister in fundraising.
He put almost $2 million of his own money into his campaign after putting in $5 million during his first run for office.
The Republican Governors Association spent about $1.6 million in independent expenditures on his behalf.
Stitt’s victory came as some polls showed the race between the two becoming tighter. The governor’s own pollster had him easily defeating Hofmeister.
He had easily avoided a runoff, securing 69.06% of the vote in the June 28 Republican primary that featured four candidates.
Hofmeister a little more than a year ago shocked many voters when she switched to Democrat from Republican to run against Stitt, saying he had “hijacked the Republican Party in Oklahoma.”
She served two terms as superintendent of public instruction as a Republican. She was term limited and could not seek reelection to that post.
Stitt used her party switch to try to tie her to the policies of the administration of President Joe Biden, who is unpopular in Oklahoma, though not on Tuesday’s ballot.
Stitt told voters Biden had targeted the state’s oil and gas industry and was responsible for historic levels of inflation.
During his first term, Stitt often butted heads with lawmakers and had an ongoing, very public feud with the state’s tribes over gaming compacts and other legal matters. The Five Tribes endorsed Hofmeister.
Stitt campaigned on the state’s record savings account, economic development, tax cuts, the low unemployment rate, a teacher pay raise and giving additional dollars to education.
During his second term, he said he would work to eliminate the state’s sales tax on groceries.
“In our state, we are going to focus on teaching kids and not indoctrinating them,” Stitt said.
Taking a page from his first race, he said Oklahoma’s turnaround is working.
Perhaps one of the most controversial campaign topics was Stitt’s support for vouchers, saying parents needed a choice.
A measure to do just that failed during the last legislative session, but it is expected to return.
Hofmeister told voters such a move would kill rural schools, something Stitt said was not true.
She campaigned on giving teachers a $5,000 pay raise.
Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton contributed to this story.