politics

Republicans launch rescue mission in race for Oklahoma governor

Stitt has faced a surprisingly robust wave of TV ads attacking him over the past two years, which his allies point to as the reason he’s locked in a tight contest. According to data from AdImpact, an ad tracking company, more than $7 million in advertising was booked by groups attacking Stitt or boosting Hofmeister in the general election, with another $1 million coming from his campaign. That’s on top of the at least $6 million more other organizations spent on Stitt in the GOP primary, which he ultimately won comfortably.

And in an unusual show of state unity, leaders of Oklahoma’s five largest Native American tribes all endorsed Hofmeister earlier this month, calling this year’s gubernatorial contest “the most important since generations for all Oklahomans” in a joint statement.

“We are a community that cares deeply about sovereign tribal nations, who cares deeply about Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said in a brief interview, saying supporting the tribes is something that “resonates throughout the state.” .

The source of much of the funding that beats Stitt has been shrouded in mystery, as it has been handled by “dark money” groups that do not disclose their donors. But Stitt and his allies blamed the state’s Native American tribes, who repeatedly clashed with the governor. (Stitt himself is a member of the Cherokee Nation.)

“They’re the big casino bosses,” Stitt told The Oklahoman. “These are the great tribes.” A campaign ad from his campaign also alluded to it, saying that “casino insiders and bosses” were attacking Stitt.

Chuck Hoskin Jr., the primary chief of the Cherokee Nation, told The Oklahoman that his tribe does not “fund dark money entities” but “certainly invests resources in racing.” Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby told The Oklahoman the comments were derogatory. The newspaper reported that he did not directly deny the allegations, but also said he did not know where Stitt got his information. And Choctaw Nation leader Gary Batton told the newspaper they would support Hofmeister “in every way possible”.

Calls to the three outside groups that spend the most in general elections have gone unanswered. (The phone number listed for one wasn’t even set up to receive voicemail.) Outside of RGA-related expenses, Stitt’s campaign also lost about $4.75 million in advertising, according to AdImpact, while a black money group that spent around $600,000 during the primary.

Hofmeister said she had “no idea” who was funding campaign expenses and that “if I could get money out of politics, I would.”

Stitt and Hofmeister met for a heated debate Wednesday night, where they clashed over education and crime rates. During the debate, Stitt repeatedly tried to link Hofmeister to President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s biggest brand, as she said she would be an independent voice and Stitt was reading a ‘national script’ .

A victory for Hofmeister would represent a dramatic and unlikely shift of power in the state. Republicans have supermajorities in both state legislative chambers. The last Democratic governor served more than a decade ago, and there are no Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation, after former Rep. Kendra Horn lost the House seat that she won in the 2018 blue wave two years later. (Horn is now running in the special election to retire GOP Sen. Jim Inhofeheadquarters.)

The Democratic Governors Association hasn’t matched the RGA’s recent spending, and the committee hasn’t contributed to the deluge of ads that has haunted Stitt over the past year.

Asked about the race at a Pluribus News event earlier this week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, chairman of the DGA, was largely hesitant: “It’s a race that yes, that we can win. We know he’s tough in a very red state. But I think, again, people tend to see governors a little differently, and hopefully that will happen.

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