OKLAHOMA CITY - Even though the next election is months away, the fight for one position is heating up.
Officials said current Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter will be on the ballot this fall, even though one of his opponents contested his candidacy for the position.
Attorney general hopeful Gentner Drummond filed the challenge, saying Hunter isn't qualified for the post because he abandoned his residency in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma law requires candidates to be at least 31 years old and to have lived in the state for 10 years prior to the election date. Drummond and his attorneys argued Hunter did not meet that requirement.
On Monday morning, the Oklahoma State Election Board heard pieces of evidence related to Hunter's home ownership in Virginia, where he worked before being named Oklahoma attorney general.
Hunter admitted he and his wife did purchase two homes in Virginia but maintained their home in Edmond was their domicile residence, saying they even kept their furniture there while they were away.
Drummond's attorney questioned Hunter's ability to maintain a permanent residence in Oklahoma while working out-of-state.
Drummond's attorney then presented tax information on Hunter, including his salary at one point. It was something the election board and the Hunters' attorneys argued was irrelevant, claiming they were trying to use the forum as "political theater and for campaign purposes."
In the end, the board said Hunter never abandoned his home or showed intent to never return, meaning he is eligible to run for office.
"He had statutory right to exercise a contest," Hunter said. "He did so. There's been a decision. We need to move on."
Drummond said he's respectful of the board's decision but thinks they missed the standard of law.
"I'm confident that the citizens of Oklahoma will make a decision in favor of my candidacy and that they want an Oklahoman with Oklahoma roots," Drummond said.
Hunter said he has been a registered Oklahoma voter since he turned 18.
“We are not surprised by today's ruling. The fact that Mike Hunter is and has been an Oklahoman all of his life is very clear, as is the law,” said Robyn Matthews, manager of Hunter’s campaign for attorney general. “Mike Hunter will stay focused on protecting Oklahomans and promoting their values. Mike Hunter will not be deterred in his fight against the opioid dealers, will remain vigilant in exposing fraud and corruption and will protect our individual rights and liberties."
He was appointed to attorney general after Scott Pruitt accepted a position with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The vote will be held in November.