Campaign

Top Oklahoma school official announces campaign for governor

A top Oklahoma school official is changing her political affiliation and launching a campaign for governor with hopes of ousting Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who she says “hijacked” the Republican Party in the state.

Joy Hofmeister, the state superintendent of public instruction for Oklahoma, announced “two momentous events” on Thursday: that she is leaving the GOP to join the Democratic Party and is using that new political affiliation to run for governor of the state.

“Today, I am announcing two momentous events in my life. First, I am officially leaving the Republican Party and joining my Democratic colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Second, I am announcing my candidacy for Governor of Oklahoma to replace Kevin Stitt,” Hofmeister said in a statement.

The education official, who has been serving in her post for seven years, said Stitt is “running our state into the ground,” pointing to partisanship and ineffective leadership.

She said that while her values have not changed, the sitting governor “has hijacked the Republican Party here in Oklahoma.” She said she is switching to the Democratic Party “in hopes of building the Oklahoma I’ve always known our state can be.”

Stitt has been serving in the Oklahoma governor’s mansion since 2019. In that short time, however, he has become a polarizing figure, enacting a number of controversial pieces of legislation including restrictive abortion bills and a law that prevents schools from teaching critical race theory.

Hofmeister said she is running as a Democrat to support education, fight for affordable health care and invest in infrastructure, especially in rural areas. She said her goal is to “address the concerns of every Oklahoman who feels they have not been heard by the current administration.”

She is also pushing for expanded broadband access, contending that schools cannot improve without such technology.

The superintendent added that Stitt “does not represent the values that regular Democrats, Independents or Republicans hold dear.”

“Governor Stitt, your time letting Oklahoma fall behind the rest of the country to chase validation from out-of-state extremists is over,” she continued.

Hofmeister, however, will first have to face former state Sen. Connie Johnson if she wants to take on Stitt in the 2022 general election. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 28.

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