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After easily beating her Democratic primary opponent during Oklahoma’s primary election on Tuesday, Joy Hofmeister, 57, will take on Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, 49, in a highly anticipated general election on November 8.
Hofmeister, the state’s former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat last year, saying Stitt had “hijacked” the Republican Party. Hofmeister’s win over progressive candidate and former state Senator Connie Johnson signals voters are putting all their eggs in the moderate basket, hoping to attract Republicans who are disillusioned with the far right-wing elements of their own party.
“Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans who went to the polls today and voted for new leadership in the Governor’s office. I’m humbled to be your Democratic nominee and I’m ready to work for all Oklahomans.”
Meanwhile, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who has championed the strictest abortion bans in the state as his administration remains engulfed in a sea of corruption investigations, easily won his primary on Tuesday as well.
“We have made government more accountable to the people,” Stitt said at a watch party on Tuesday night, according to AP journalist Sean Murphy. “We are delivering better services while keeping government small and limited.”
Kevin Stitt vs. Joy Hofmeister: November general election
Notably, the number of scandals and corruption investigations have piled up so high that a nonpartisan group called Clean Up Oklahoma formed to push transparency and accountability among politicians and candidates mired in controversy.
“We’re not campaigning against Stitt, we’re campaigning against corruption. And he’s either with us or he isn’t,” Williams told The Black Wall Street Times earlier this month.
Abortion rights, gun safety and the death penalty will likely be hot topics going into the general election in November.
Stitt has signed every abortion ban that has come to his desk. Joy Hofmeister, on the other hand, labels herself as “pro-life” but says the decision is a private one that should be decided by a patient and their doctor. She also wants to prop up the state’s education system through supporting teachers, while Stitt’s handpicked Secretary of Education Ryan Walters has battled against teachers at every turn.
Death penalty, freedom for Julius Jones may be on the ballot in November
Notably, Stitt traumatized millions when he waited until the last minute to commute the death sentence of Julius Jones, an innocent Black man on death row. Jones and his family were forced to undergo all the procedures a condemned man must go through on his last day. Despite commuting his death sentence, Stitt signed an executive order forcing Jones to remain in prison for the rest of his life.
For her part, Hofmeister told local media she would’ve granted clemency to Julius Jones. Millions of his supporters inside and outside the state continue to hope for a new governor with the will to grant Jones freedom.
“As I’ve driven across this state, people tell me they are ready for change. Oklahomans want an end to the self-dealing and cronyism brought by Governor Stitt that is putting the future of our families and businesses at risk,” Hofmeister said.
While Joy Hofmeister raked in more than $1.1 million for her primary campaign, Stitt brought in more than $5 million, signaling the newly minted Democrat still has a long way to go to build a coalition strong enough to take on the Republican businessman. Still, a rare excitement surrounds voters in the state, some of whom consider Hofmeister to have a better chance of retaking the governor’s mansion than any Democrat in the last 12 years.
“Stitt promised to run Oklahoma like a business, but by his own standards, the business of Oklahoma is failing,” Hofmeister said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our schools are desperate for resources, quality and affordable health care is out of reach for too many, and Oklahomans are struggling to find good-paying jobs that will sustain a family during rising inflation.”