Harris, Hern advance to Republican runoff in metro Tulsa’s 1st U.S House District
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
OKLAHOMA CITY (CFP) — Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt topped a field of 10 candidates in the Republican primary for governor and will face each other in an August 28 runoff.
Cornett took 29 percent in the June 26 vote to 24 percent for Stitt, who edged out the third-place finisher, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb, by less than 3,500 votes.
The runoff winner will face former Attorney General Drew Edmonson, who cruised to an easy victory in the Democratic primary.
In the state’s open 1st U.S. House District seat in metro Tulsa, the Republican runoff will feature former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris against Kevin Hern, a Tulsa McDonald’s franchisee.
The seat was vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who resigned in April after he was confirmed as NASA administrator.
Harris took 28 percent to 23 percent for Hern, who narrowly edged out Andy Coleman, an attorney and minister from Owasso, with 22 percent. However, the margin between Hern and Coleman was just 840 votes, and media outlets did not make an immediate final call on the second runoff spot.
On the Democratic side in the 1st District, Tim Gilpin, a Tulsa attorney and former member of the state school board, will face a runoff with Amanda Douglas, an energy industry analyst from Broken Arrow.
The winner of the GOP primary will be favored in November in the heavily Republican district.
The GOP race for governor drew 10 candidates to succeed term-limited Republican Governor Mary Fallon. This was the first statewide election in Oklahoma since a teachers’ strike in April shuttered classrooms and roiled state politics.
Cornett, 59, is a well known figure in Oklahoma politics, serving 14 years as mayor of Oklahoma City after a career as a television anchor.
Stitt, a wealthy Tulsa businessman who founded Gateway Mortgage Group, ran on a platform of reforming the political culture in Oklahoma City, a message that resonated in the wake of the teachers’ strike. He surged in polls in the latter stages of the race after pouring in $2.2 million of his own money, upsetting Lamb for second place.
“Oklahoma’s turnaround starts tonight, folks,” he told supporters at a watch party in Jenks.
In his election night speech to supporters, Cornett also struck a chord for reform, saying “no one in Oklahoma seems to be giving up on this state.”
“People want more transparency. They want more accountability,” he said. “We’re going to have to have higher standards in health and education going forward.”
In the first primary round, Cornett carried Oklahoma City and surrounding areas, while Stitt put up his best numbers in and around Tulsa. Lamb carried most of the rest of the state, where the runoff battle is likely to be fought.
While Republicans dominate Oklahoma politics — and Fallon won the last two races by double-digit margins — Democrats will have a viable nominee for governor in Edmundson, 71, who comes from a prominent Oklahoma political family and served as attorney general from 1995 to 2011. He had raised $1.4 million heading into the primary, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.