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Edmondson vs. Stitt

A Look at the Nov. 6 Race for Oklahoma's Next Governor

Drew+Edmondson+and+Kevin+Stitt
Drew Edmondson and Kevin Stitt

Drew Edmondson and Kevin Stitt

Photos courtesy Edmondson and Stitt campaigns

Photos courtesy Edmondson and Stitt campaigns

Drew Edmondson and Kevin Stitt

Nate Husen, Reporter

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With the gubernatorial and midterm elections Nov. 6, Spartan Post News has put together a guide for the governor’s race, in which one of the biggest issues is education. John Travers, a U.S. history and federal government professor at Tulsa Community College, provides some professional insight into the election of either Republican Kevin Stitt or Democrat Drew Edmondson as governor.

 

What’s going on?

Oklahoma is selecting a new governor this year. Two-term Gov. Mary Fallin cannot run again because of term limits. A political newcomer is the Republican nominee; a longtime state attorney general leads the Democratic ticket.

 

Who’s running?

In one corner is Democrat Drew Edmondson, who was in the Navy, prosecuted cases as Muskogee County’s district attorney and served 16 years as Oklahoma’s attorney general. Opposite him is Republican Kevin Stitt, owner of Gateway Mortgage and a father of six.

 

What do they stand for?

Edmondson’s key issues are education, health care, leadership and transparency in government. Edmondson supports a series of pay raises for teachers, reduced classroom sizes, better classroom funding, and more efficient, accountable administration. The candidate promises to reverse Fallin’s and the legislature’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion and help low-income Oklahomans gain access to health care. He intends to increase cooperation in Oklahoma by working with everyone as a leader. Edmondson also pledges to make Oklahoma’s finances and decision-making as open and visible as possible to the public.

Stitt’s “five pillars” are efficiency, education, economy, infrastructure and health. Stitt intends to audit every agency to increase efficiency. He plans to create a temporary $5,000 bonus program for teachers, and wants to increase the accessibility of quality education. For the economy, Stitt wants to capitalize on tax cuts and create more hiring and recruitment programs. Stitt also promises to repair the state’s infrastructure. As for health care, Stitt wants privatization and sales of health insurance across state lines.

 

Why does it matter?

According to Travers, the governor holds significant sway over state government, especially with a cooperative legislature. With executive power, the governor can influence education, the economy and, to an even greater degree, criminal justice. The governor can influence legislation to give teachers raises or loosen regulation on businesses. Travers says criminal justice is more complicated. Private prisons cost a lot more than state prisons to maintain, and state prisons are overflowing with people for soon-to-be-legal marijuana offenses. The governor has the ability to collectively forgive those people, then move some prisoners from private prisons to the newly opened up space in the state ones, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars.

 

Who is going to win?

In Travers’s view, “Drew Edmondson is going to be your next governor.” However, Oklahoma has historically been a heavily Republican state for nearly 50 years. Recent polls show Stitt with a slight lead.

Travers says Edmondson’s solutions for education appeal to teachers overall, and teachers are the key to the rest of the state. On the other hand, Travers notes that $650 million of the $800 million in education revenue comes from laws that Stitt says he would’ve vetoed as governor.

It’s a clear cut choice for voters, and come November Oklahoma will see how it stands.

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