Kevin Stitt, Joy Hofmeister
Incumbent Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent of Public Education Joy Hofmeister are the Republican and Democratic candidates for Oklahoma governor in 2022. (NonDoc)

In a result that carries no big surprises, the two most high-profile candidates for governor, incumbent Gov. Kevin Stitt and Superintendent of Public Education Joy Hofmeister, have won their respective primary campaigns and will face each other in the November general election.

Stitt defeated three challengers in today’s Republican primary: Joel Kintsel, the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs; Mark Sherwood, an alternative-medicine practitioner and former professional bodybuilder; and Moira McCabe, who came to politics via TikTok.

Hofmeister, who changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat just before the election deadline, faced former state senator and longtime progressive activist Connie Johnson in the Democratic primary.

With more than 65 percent of precincts reporting, Stitt had more than 68 percent of the GOP vote. Hofmeister had more than 60 percent of the Democratic vote.

Hofmeister has made unseating Stitt a primary focus of her campaign, while Stitt is hoping Oklahomans will look at what he has done for the past four years and decide they want more of the same.

Former Sen. Ervin Yen, who is running as an independent, and Libertarian candidate Natalie Bruno will also be on the ballot in November.

All results posted by the Oklahoma State Election Board online are unofficial until they are certified by the board.

Election seen as a referendum on Stitt

An often-repeated motto of Stitt’s first term has been that he wants to make Oklahoma a “top 10 state,” and he is carrying that goal into his campaign for a second term. Speaking with NonDoc recently, he described how he tracks the state’s progress.

“I have a governor’s metric where we talk about roads, bridges, and we talk about incarceration rates, and we talk about visits to state parks, tourism and taxes — where do we rank on the tax code with every other state,” Stitt said. “Where we have education, infrastructure, health care. So I have a scorecard, and I will continue to manage the organization — state employees, number of employees, growth savings account, all those things — we currently have a very, very good scorecard, and we’ll continue to to push those.”

Hofmeister, however, maintains that Stitt is “running this state into the ground,” and says his administration has been marked by “self-dealing” and “pandering to extremism.”

Stitt includes the state’s level of transparency among his accomplishments, but Hofmeister has made made questioning the Stitt administration’s integrity central to her campaign.

Various aspects of Stitt’s time in office have given his critics fodder on this front, including his readiness to hire and fire based on appointees’ conformity to his viewpoints and recent revelations about questionable contracts given to Swadley’s BBQ by the Tourism and Recreation Department.

Hofmeister, who positioned herself to make it to the general election by changing her party affiliation, now faces another hurdle: No Democrat has been elected to statewide office in Oklahoma in more than a decade.

While Hofmeister has been speaking out on issues that run along conventional Democratic Party lines, she is also insistent that she is, at heart, a moderate, and hopes to tread that line to victory.

“Let’s put it this way: I’m independent in holding both parties accountable,” Hofmeister said in an interview ahead of the primary election. “But I also am a fighter, and I can’t help but stand up and fight for the future of our children, of all of those who are in communities across this state who are counting on a leader who will work to bring people together to get things done.”

The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8.