With only a few dozen precincts left to report, Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt appears to have earned the Oklahoma Republican Party’s 2018 gubernatorial nomination, besting former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
That means the mortgage mogul — who touts himself as an outsider and has played up his similarities to and support of President Donald Trump — will turn his attention to Democrat Drew Edmondson, a former prosecutor and state attorney general.
The Associated Press declared Stitt the winner shortly before 9 p.m. With more than 1,700 of 1,951 precincts reporting, Stitt held more than 54 percent of the GOP runoff vote Tuesday evening. While Cornett won Oklahoma County with more than 58 percent, Stitt held a similar lead in Tulsa and performed better among Republicans in the majority of rural counties.
Tuesday’s results mark the second time that Cornett has lost a major Republican Party runoff, falling short 12 years after losing to now-Gov. Mary Fallin in the 2006 party runoff for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District.
Kevin Stitt vs. Drew Edmondson vs. Chris Powell
In the June primary, Cornett led GOP gubernatorial candidates with 29.3 percent of the vote while Stitt finished second with 24.4 percent. Both edged out Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb who received 23.9 percent.
Kevin Stitt on the campaign trail: ‘I have better ideas’ by Michael Duncan
Edmondson won the Democratic primary with 61.4 percent over former state Sen. Connie Johnson, allowing him to stockpile financial resources for the past two months. As of the latest pre-runoff Oklahoma Ethics Commission reports, Edmondson had $703,000 on hand while Stitt had about $369,000. (Cornett had about $337,000.)
Shortly after the AP called the GOP race for Stitt, Edmondson released a statement offering congratulations while also attempting to tie the Republican businessman to the unpopular Fallin.
“We can’t afford four more years of the same flawed policies and misguided schemes that have pulled us to the bottom in so many important areas like education, health care and mental health,” Edmondson said in his statement. “It’s time for a governor who is willing to do the hard work and make the tough decisions. It’s time for a governor who understands that open, transparent government is good government. It’s time for a governor who stands up for the people, not the special interests.”
Also Tuesday, the Oklahoma Libertarian Party nominated Chris Powell over Rex Lawhorn. Powell nearly won the June primary outright, receiving 48.9 percent of the vote compared to Lawhorn’s 32.4 percent and Joe Exotic’s 18.7 percent.
Oklahoma’s general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 6. Anyone wishing to register to vote on that date must do so by Friday, Oct. 12.
(Update: This story was updated at 9:03 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, to include a quote from Drew Edmondson.)