The Journal Record
August 28, 2018
OKLAHOMA CITY – After months of waiting, Oklahomans finally know their Republican candidate for governor: Kevin Stitt.
Back in June, the initial primary vote kept observers on the edges of their seats well into the night. Mick Cornett led throughout, but not with enough votes to nab the nomination. It was going to a runoff. At about 10 p.m. Kevin Stitt and Todd Lamb were at times less than two dozen votes apart.
Tuesday’s election proved less dramatic. Stitt had an early lead, which he held with a wide margin until the Associated Press called the race at about 8:30 p.m. With 94 percent of precincts reporting at press time, Stitt was up 55-45. *The percentages didn’t change after all 1,951 precincts reported results to the Oklahoma State Election Board. Stitt had 27,555 more votes than Cornett, according to preliminary, unofficial results posted on the agency’s website at 10 p.m.
Stitt addressed his watch party in Jenks and the media with a comment that was celebratory, thanking his family, his supporters and his campaign team. He talked about what he can bring Oklahoma, and how it will soon be a top-10 state with limited government and well-funded core services. He then drew attention to the path that lies ahead.
“Tomorrow, we get back to work, and we put the plan together,” he said. “Let’s go win this in November. Because Oklahoma’s turnaround starts right here, right now.”
Cornett’s watch party took place at the Tower Theater, the year-old venue and a symbol of Oklahoma City’s revival. Giant screens displayed KOCO, the channel for which Cornett once worked as an anchor. The partygoers started nervously watching the results as they began to scroll across the bottom of the feed.
After the AP results were announced and supporters saw the check mark next to Stitt’s name flash on the screen, everyone began waiting. The lights dimmed, and the audience cheered as Cornett walked down a side aisle onto the stage. As he gave his concession speech, he focused on what he learned and the support he has gotten in his career leading to that moment.
He said a friend told him that running for governor was similar to undergoing a doctoral program on the state of Oklahoma and the people who live there. The courses were potlucks and rodeos and county fairs.
“Boy, do we feel educated about the great people of this state,” he said.
He said several people in the room were there for him when he first ran for Oklahoma City Council, then for mayor, and then when he decided to run for governor. It’s unlikely they will ever see his name on a ballot again, he said, but he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
“We felt like we had a message of optimism,” he said. “We are still optimistic about the future of Oklahoma.”
*This story was updated by reporter Sarah Terry-Cobo after all 1,951 precincts reported results to the Oklahoma State Election Board.