Tomorrow is the date of the midterm elections in the United States — November 6. In Oklahoma, the hotly contested governor’s race is a tossup as the final polls show.
In a race between Republican Kevin Stitt and Democrat Drew Edmondson, the former threatens to win and end eight years of Republican leadership at governor from Mary Fallin, who is arguably among the state’s least popular governors. Since the 2010 midterm election Republicans have controlled the state government, and many Oklahomans do not feel that things in the state have improved under their leadership.
Democrat Drew Edmondson, 72, may end up moving into the governor’s mansion soon even though Oklahoma is typically “reddest of the red” states. If he wins, Edmondson will defeat Kevin Stitt, 46, a political outsider who owns Gateway Mortgage company and admittedly hasn’t voted in a governor’s election in well over a decade.
In recent days, this governor’s race moved from likely Republican to a toss-up, but some analysts still predict a Stitt win. Part of that reason may be the fact that education in Oklahoma remains a top priority with the state’s educational system near the bottom of the rankings in the U.S. Last spring, Oklahoma held a state-wide teacher walkout, and things got contentious with Governor Mary Fallin infamously comparing the striking professional educators to “a teenage kid that wants a better car,” according to a Washington Post report.
While the walkout had bi-partisan support and did result in a smaller than asked for teacher pay increase, Drew Edmondson showed up alongside teachers as they rallied at the state capitol during the strike. Kevin Stitt, did not, and even at first appeared to side with an effort by former Senator Tom Coburn to get rid of whatever raise that the Oklahoma Congress allotted for teachers. However, Stitt eventually walked back on that stance when he received harsh backlash. Despite Stitt’s opposition to tax increases, he hopes to find the money in Oklahoma’s budget through an extensive audit to give teacher’s an even more substantial raise than they received. That relies on the possibility that Oklahoma’s government has massive budget waste, though.
Many teachers vowed to run and make a change in Oklahoma’s government, and during the primaries and special elections, many long-time candidates lost their jobs. While neither Edmondson nor Stitt is an educator, the teachers of the state still vow to “Remember in November,” and that day of remembrance is tomorrow at the voting polls. Edmondson holds a favorable spot among teachers after he stood on the lines with them during their walkout last spring.
Edmondson plans to improve education in Oklahoma as well as expand Medicaid for Oklahoma’s working poor, and those ideas appear to resonate with voters.
Pat McFerron, a Republican political strategist and pollster, said, “I jokingly say the top three issues in the state are education, education funding, and teacher pay. And on education issues, right or wrong, Democrats have an advantage.”
Tomorrow will show whether or not voters in Oklahoma want a change after eight years of stagnation under Mary Fallin. Many feel that Stitt’s political outsider status, like President Donald Trump’s, represents a change. However, others believe that Edmondson is the only real choice for change. Libertarian, Chris Powell is also in the race.