My View from the Cheap Seats
I have had my eye on the Oklahoma governor’s race for quite some time and in my opinion, there is a very real likelihood that seat could change hands. Let me explain.
I first met our Governor, Kevin Stitt four years ago when he took out two well known political candidates in the Republican primary. I wrote about my first encounter with Kevin and his wife Sarah, HERE and I stand by that account. He was going to be the breath of fresh air that Oklahoma desperately needed. Successful businessman, no political experience but quick thinking and a visionary. His goal to turn Oklahoma into a top ten state was admirable and he could articulate what needed to change in order to move that ball down the court.
But politics and state government are a far cry from the boardroom and Stitt made some initial political missteps that have now come home to haunt him. I have narrowed it down to these four, fatal mistakes:
1. He appointed his friends with little or no political experience to cabinet level positions.
While it is smart to appoint qualified people you trust to high level / key spots in government, if they lack a fundamental understanding of how the bureaucracy works, they are bound to make mistakes. And they did. Here are a few:
2. He picked a fight with the Tribal Nations who call Oklahoma home .
When Stitt decided to write an op-ed in his home town paper (July 8, 2019) shredding the tribes and the gaming compacts, he made some powerful enemies. Oklahomans take pride in our native heritage and history. It is a part of who we are as a state. There are countless community partnerships where the tribal nations are involved and committed to making our state better place to live. We live together and work together. There has always been a symbiotic relationship between the state and our tribal nations, until Kevin Stitt severely damaged that tie. The smart move would have been to invite the Tribes over to the Capitol for a critical conversation about re-negotiating the gaming compacts that were set to renew…just saying.
3. Primary Endorsements
Why in the world would a sitting Governor get involved up and down the ballot of a Republican Primary. Stitt campaigned and/or endorsed at least four candidates in the Republican Primary. Not only is this bad form, but you anger those Republicans who might be supporting “the other guy.” I believe they used to call it the Reagan rule? and Stitt broke it.
4. Campaign Malpractice
It is a fact that there were multiple outside entities who have spent around $20+ million dollars running negative ads against Kevin Stitt. That is a LOT of dark money. Regardless, a candidate can not allow their opponent to define them – even if they happen to be 18 points ahead in the polls like Stitt was last Summer. Polls are simply a snapshot in time, and the initial silence from the Stitt campaign provided his opponent an opportunity to define him and close the gap. I don’t know who is running the Stitt campaign but they called in the calvary. Can’t remember a time when the Republican Governor’s Association had to spend money in Oklahoma!
Election Day in my state will be interesting to watch. I wonder if the the red wave happening across the country will be big enough to pull Kevin Stitt across the finish line… the Senator and I have a bet on this. Will let you know who wins!