By: William W. Savage III
Only a one-word answer is needed: Cornett or Stitt?
After being bombarded for more than a year with phone calls and messaging from GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, registered Republicans are going to hear even further from and have to choose between former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt.
Results from Tuesday’s election left Cornett with 29.4 percent of the GOP primary vote, while Stitt received 24.4 percent. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb finished just behind Stitt with 23.9 percent. The rest of a crowded field finished behind them: Dan Fisher, Gary Jones, Gary Richardson, Blake “Cowboy” Stephens, Chris Barnett and Barry Gowdy and Eric Foutch.
“Frontrunners coming out of initial primaries win the runoff about 70 percent of the time,” OU political science professor Keith Gaddie said Tuesday night. “However, when no one breaks 35 percent, the second round is basically a toss up. So the late summer runoff is a new election, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who wins.”
Cornett said he feels positive about his campaign heading into the runoff.
“People want more transparency. They want more accountability,” Cornett said at his watch party. “I take a step back. I remind people, we are going to have to have higher standards in health and education going forward. If we’re going to be the state we want to be, we’re going to have to step it up and do better. We’ve also got to invest in our infrastructure, we’ve got to work on criminal justice reform, and we are badly in need of a culture change down at the State Capitol.”
At his watch party in Tulsa, Stitt said “Oklahomans are ready for change.”
“Folks, Oklahomans are tired at coming in last place. I’m ready for Oklahoma to take our rightful place as a top-10 state,” Stitt said. “We’re ready to be top-10 in growth, top-10 in education and top-10 in infrastructure. I’m ready to start there, but we are going to start with transparency. We have got to get control of this budget process.”
Oklahoma’s runoff election will be held Aug. 28. With fewer local races, runoffs typically see lower voter turnout.
Edmondson leads Democrats into November
On the other side of the fence, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson topped former state Sen. Connie Johnson, earning the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination that escaped him in 2010.
“To the people of the state of Oklahoma, I pledge you my best efforts over the next four and a half months,” Edmondson said at his watch party. “I pledge you that everything I say that I’m going to do I’m going to do my dead-level best to do. I want to pledge to you that I’m going to keep this campaign on the issues because the issues are real and important to all people. I pledge to you that if you join this effort, if you make this work on Nov. 6, we will build a state that our grandchildren can be proud of.”
Just who Edmondson will face remains unclear, however, with a tight Libertarian primary being overshadowed by a GOP election that saw its candidates for governor spend morethan $11 million.
In the Libertarian primary, Chris Powell defeated eccentric tiger-wrangler Joe Exotic and Rex Lawhorn.
The following information is drawn from the vote totals being tabulated by the Oklahoma State Election Board, which can be found here.
Lieutenant Governor runoff set
Oklahoma Republicans will be voting in more that just one statewide runoff nine weeks from today. Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy (45.9 percent) and former Oklahoma Republican Party chairman Matt Pinnell (35.7 percent) will meet in an August runoff, while Sen. Eddie Fields (R-Wynona) and Dominique DaMón Block finished with fewer votes.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Anastasia Pittman (D-OKC) narrowly defeated Anna Dearmore of Okmulgee by slightly more than 3,100 votes.
Attorney General runoff awaits
Days after a lively debate, Attorney General Mike Hunter received more votes than top GOP challenger Gentner Drummond in the Republican primary for attorney general. But Angela Bonilla received 17.1 percent of the vote, helping force a runoff between Hunter and Drummond who have heavily criticized one another over the past month.
The winner will face Mark Myles, a Democrat from Oklahoma City who began practicing criminal law in 2008 after two decades working for IBM.
Commissioner of Labor features GOP runoff
Republicans and Democrats each voted to select their nominees for commissioner of labor Tuesday, with Fred Dorrell prevailing over Sam A. Mis-soum on the Democrat side.
Cathy Costello (43.2 percent) will meet Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang), who received 35.9 percent of the vote. Keith Swinton was the third candidate in the GOP primary, and he received 20.8 percent of the vote.
The GOP runoff winner will face Dorrell in November, along with independent candidate Brandt Dismukes.
State Auditor and Inspector heads to runoff
A bristly primary between GOP state auditor and inspector candidates Cindy Byrd and Charlie Prater will turn into a hot summer runoff between a pair of politicians with shared animosity. Neither Byrd (49.5 percent) nor Prater (42.1 percent) received a majority of the vote, so an Aug. 28 runoff will decide the contest.
John Uzzo was the third Republican candidate in the race and finished last. The winner between Byrd and Prater will face Libertarian John Yeutter, a CPA who lives in Tahlequah and teaches accounting at Northeastern State University.
Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner runoff
Republicans and Democrats both voted to nominate a candidate for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Incumbent Bob Anthony failed to get 50 percent of the vote, forcing an Aug. 28 runoff with former Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman.
Democrats will also participate in the runoff, choosing between Ashley Nicole McCaray (48.8 percent) and Blake Cummings.
Superintendent of Public Instruction runoff
Current Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (46.8 percent) could not conquer two primary challengers Tuesday night. She will face Edmond’s Linda Murphy (31.1 percent). Will Farrell of Tulsa was the third candidate, finishing with 22.1 percent of the vote.
The winner between Hofmeister and Murphy will face Democrat John Cox and independent Larry Huff in November.
Mulready wins GOP Insurance Commissioner nod
Rep. Glen Mulready (R-Jenks) defeated Donald Chasteen, with Mulready receiving 54.8 percent of the tabulated vote.
He will face Democrat Kimberly Fobbs in the general election.