OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The first head-to-head discussion between Governor Kevin Stitt and Democratic candidate Joy Hofmeister took place Wednesday.
The two gubernatorial candidates spoke at The Petroleum Alliance.
Along with energy, they discussed the tribes and the future of education.
Governor Kevin Stitt said he will continue to defend Oklahoma’s oil and gas companies from federal government regulations.
“We will sue the federal administration,” said the incumbent. “We’re not going to put our Constitution in the attic just because somebody in Washington, D.C. tells us to.”
For Hofmeister, she sees untapped potential in Oklahoma.
“We have still hundreds of wells that are not online,” said Hofmeister.
AAA shows Oklahoma having a higher gas price per gallon, compared to four out of six states in our region.
When it came to education, Governor Stitt wanted competition for students, but Hofmeister opposed a voucher program.
“We have a governor who is pushing a voucher scheme that will be a rural school killer,” said the State Superintendent.
The Governor highlighted The Aviation Academy, a newly opened school in Norman Public Schools. He said the school is a good example of education competing for students and education working to fill the needs of Oklahoma’s industries.
“If we do the same thing we’ve always done, we’re going to get the same results,” said Governor Stitt. “We need to inject competition.”
On Tuesday, Hofmeister received the first-ever endorsement from The Five Tribes.
Oklahoma’s largest tribes have never united to endorse one candidate.
The Democratic candidate said it’s important for the state to work closely with the sovereign nations.
“Tribal nations have a collective economic impact of $15.5 billion every year,” said Hofmeister. “And collectively they are the largest employer in the state.”
For the Governor, his relationship has been tenuous since the beginning of his term.
When asked about the McGirt case, he said it was not something he could support.
“I was not going to be the governor that goes down in history, that gives half of my state away,” said Governor Stitt.
Both candidates were cordial during the forum. They did not talk over each other, and they were both conscious of the time allotted to them with each question.
At the end they shook hands, but left the audience with their own theme for the next four years.
“We need a governor that’s not beholden to anybody, but that is beholden to the people of Oklahoma,” said Stitt.
“We have to have a governor who can work together with people,” said Hofmeister. “There is so much at stake.”