“I’ll continue advocating for the 39 tribal nations that call our state home,” – Joy Hofmeister.
Byline: Braden Harper/Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – After a long, contested gubernatorial race between incumbent candidate Kevin Stitt (R) and opponent Joy Hofmeister (D), Oklahoma cast their vote and made the decision to re-elect Stitt for another term. The Associated Press reported that Stitt won the election with 638,910 votes, garnishing 55.5% of the vote. Hofmeister gained 481,396 votes, garnering 41.8% of the vote. Hofmeister won in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Cleveland Counties, and Stitt won the rest.
Governor Stitt was first elected governor in 2018 and will serve a second term until 2026. His first term has seen controversy due to fighting with the Oklahoma Tribes over gaming compacts, hunting licenses, and tribal sovereignty. Particularly, Governor Stitt has been controversial within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation due to his efforts to overturn the historic McGirt decision that solidified the nation’s sovereign right to prosecute crimes.
This year’s gubernatorial election was unprecedented due to the Five Tribes of Oklahoma’s endorsement of Hofmeister. The tribes cited Hofmeister’s respect for tribal sovereignty and commitment to work with Oklahoma’s federally recognized tribes as their reason for support.
Leading up to the election, there was a big push to register Native Americans to vote by the nonpartisan organization Rock the Native Vote. Reservation Dogs and Muscogee Actor Lane Factor even appeared in a public service announcement video for the nonprofit.
The MCN released a statement on the results of the Oklahoma Gubernatorial Race. Although the tribe has struggled to work with the state on business and political matters during Governor Stitt’s first term, they hope the administration can start anew.
“It took more than $10 million for the Republican governor to win reelection in solidly red Oklahoma. Citizens across this state have sent a clear signal that they value the cultural and economic contributions of tribal governments and want a productive government-to-government relationship. We hope Governor Stitt is ready to set the politics of the past aside and start working together for the betterment of all Oklahomans.”
During Stitt’s acceptance speech, he praised his administration’s efforts during their first term and discussed plans moving forward through his next term.
“The American dream is alive and well in the great state of Oklahoma,” Governor Stitt said. “Oklahomans are proud of how far we’ve come.”
Governor Stitt did not comment on the state government’s current struggles with the tribal nations of Oklahoma nor any plans regarding tribal nation relations.
Hofmeister remarked during her concession speech that she would continue to support the tribes. She concurs that she hopes to see a change in how the state handles tribal affairs.
“I’ll continue advocating for the 39 tribal nations that call our state home,” Hofmeister said.
“As this political season fades, it is my hope that the division with tribal governments will fade away as well. I am so grateful for the trust and friendships I’ve built with tribal members and citizens across our state, and I am so sorry that this is not the outcome we wanted.”
The governor’s race also saw two other candidates run; Independent Ervin Yen and Libertarian Natalie Bruno. Both received 1.4% of the vote each.