It looks like the 2022 election for Governor of Oklahoma is officially off to the races, but I’d be careful where you place your bet.
Betraying the Republican voters who helped her become Superintendent of Education, Joy Hofmeister has announced she is abandoning her party and switching to the Democrat ticket to run against popular incumbent Governor Kevin Stitt. The lure of big-time money and the seat of power were too much for Hofmeister to resist, I suppose.
Oklahoma voters will first ask the question, does businessman Kevin Stitt deserve another four years? As a political outsider, Stitt promised Oklahomans a different way of doing things and the momentum to begin a much-needed turnaround for the state. On these two points he has certainly delivered. As a business owner, former State Senator and Cabinet Secretary, I have a unique perspective to evaluate his accomplishments.
First, Governor Stitt brought an energy level and passion for change to the State Capitol that has not been seen since the days of Frank Keating. Second, he filled his administration with extremely successful Oklahomans that refused to accept the status quo and set about fixing things for the people. Former COO John Budd, Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe, current Secretary of Human Services Justin Brown, Director of Tourism Jerry Winchester, and many more of the Governor’s appointments have fixed numerous decade-old problems and raised the level of excellence at state agencies to unprecedented levels.
Third, Governor Stitt has brought accountability and transparency to state government, just like he promised. With help from the Legislature, Governor Stitt gained direct oversight of the five largest state agencies, bringing an unprecedented level of accountability and collaboration to our government. Critical audits for Medicaid eligibility, agency technology, and Hofmeister’s own State Department of Education have been launched with important lessons learned and implemented. Having been the State’s Secretary of Budget and met with Hofmeister’s finance team multiple times, I can report they like to operate unto themselves, always ask for more money and still struggle with basic concepts to track useful performance measures.
To add to Stitt’s accomplishments, more roads are getting fixed, an increasing number of companies with great jobs are moving to Oklahoma, new outstanding welcome centers are greeting out-of-state travelers, digital transformation efforts have led to more government services being offered online, funding for the education budget is at a record high, and parents now have stronger education options for their kids.
We can’t afford to derail this progress and lose the momentum currently pushing us toward becoming a Top Ten state. I highly recommend you stick with high energy Stitt and avoid the shrill of opportunists and pretenders.