Gubernatorial candidate Mick Cornett has called “Bull Stitt” against his Republican runoff opponent.
Cornett’s newest ad comes less than a week after a pro-Cornett political action committee opened fire on Kevin Stitt, the Tulsa mortgage giant who has polled about nine points ahead of the former Oklahoma City mayor for Oklahoma’s Aug. 28 runoff election.
Days after the two candidates squared off for a televised debate, Oklahoma Values, the PAC favoring Cornett, launched an ad that criticized Stitt for receiving regulatory punishment from states such as Georgia, Arkansas and Illinois.
Stitt’s campaign called a “press gaggle” Friday, Aug. 10, at H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City, minutes before he was set to speak to the High Noon club that meets within the I-40-adjacent business.
“It’s people who have never lived in the private sector trying to twist the truth,” Stitt said. “Just typical politics, I guess. When people are down and they are down 10 points — two polls show me winning this race by up to 10 points — and now all of a sudden the negative ads start coming out, and they are trying to twist the truth. Oklahomans are too smart for this.”
Asked if he had any criticism of Cornett’s political career, Stitt said at the gun range that he was going to stay focused on his goals for improving Oklahoma.
“I’ll let other people criticize my opponents,” Stitt said. “I’m just going to talk about what I want to do.”
Later, however, a blistering ad from Stitt’s campaign was on airwaves telling voters that “Mayor Cornett didn’t back Donald Trump for president.”
“Mayor Cornett is not just a ‘Never Trumper,'” the ad states, “Cornett defended sanctuary cities and said building President Trump’s border wall ‘ain’t going to get us anywhere.'”
Cornett: ‘Bull Stitt’
High-level campaigns are almost always prepared with response ads, and last week’s negative barbs were met with swift retorts this week.
Tuesday, Cornett’s campaign clapped back against Stitt’s sanctuary city claim with adorable senior citizens calling “Bull Stitt” while a narrator borrows GOP primary candidate Gary Richardson’s line about “Shady Kevin.”
Stitt on Cornett: ‘He’s gone to Plan B’
Around the same time, the Stitt campaign released its response ad that features the Tulsa millionaire talking straight to voters.
“Kinda says more about him than me, don’t you think?” Stitt asks of Cornett’s attacks. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Oklahoma’s turnaround starts right here, right now.”
In the ad, Stitt again refers to himself as an outsider, implying that he would be preferable to a “career politician” like either Cornett or Democrat Drew Edmondson.
Edmondson: Opponents prefer ‘slogans over substance’
But asked during his press gaggle Aug. 10 why he, as an outsider, was the only gubernatorial candidate not to respond in any fashion to Oklahoma Watch’s July request for voluntary financial disclosures, Stitt expressed a desire for privacy.
“We haven’t even discussed that. I haven’t seen that request,” Stitt said. “Nobody’s brought it up. But no, we’re a privately held company, and there’s no need to get into my private situation.”
The Cornett campaign also did not release financial information about the former mayor, but it did offer a statement that, “Mick has always taken accountability and transparency seriously.”
Libertarians Rex Lawhorn and Chris Powell released summaries of their finances.
Edmondson, however, released tax returns.
“I trust that providing this personal financial information shows that I stand behind my pledge to promote openness in government,” Edmondson told Oklahoma Watch. “I hope all candidates, especially those seeking the state’s highest office, make this same decision. If not, we’ll know they prefer slogans over substance.”
(Correction: This post was updated at 1:28 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, to clarify a reference to the timing of an ad.)