OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A first-time endorsement from The Five Tribes for Governor of Oklahoma goes to Democratic candidate Joy Hofmeister.

The five largest tribes in the state, including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), Choctaw and Seminole Nations say they support the Democratic candidate because of her experience in education.

“She understands that we’ve leaned into public education and to higher education at a time when the state of Oklahoma seems to have retreated on those subjects in different ways,” said Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr, of the Cherokee Nation.

Last week, those same tribes issued a statement urging state lawmakers to repeal House Bill 1775, the controversial “anti-CRT law.”

But for them, endorsing Hofmeister is not a partisan decision.

“My goodness, Republican members of the state legislature have been amazing to work with,” said Hoskin Jr.

However, the decision is made easy because of the relationship, or the lack thereof, between Governor Kevin Stitt and the tribal leaders.

“I lose track how many times we’ve been in court with Governor Stitt,” sighed the Cherokee chief.

They think that Hofmeister will be easier to work with.

“She looks at 39 tribes and doesn’t see them as 39 obstacles to be knocked out of the way,” said Hoskin Jr. “She sees 39 opportunities to try innovative things on education, to work together as partners.”

Hofmeister said she was humbled by this endorsement.

The State Superintendent said she plans to sit at the round table with the tribes, not the head of the table.

“I believe in including native people in key positions across state agencies, especially in rural Oklahoma,” declared Hofmeister.

While the Republican-turned-Democrat enjoyed the support from the state’s sovereign nations, Governor Kevin Stitt still has support from another powerful group.

The Oklahoma State Fraternal Order of Police did not endorse a candidate for governor in 2018, but they chose incumbent Kevin Stitt as their pick for this November.

“When we had our conference in August here in Oklahoma City, he reached out to us, asked to come, and that was the only gubernatorial candidate that did,” said Mark Nelson, President of the OKFOP.

Governor Stitt signed a bill in 2020 that raised retiree benefits for firefighters, police, judges, teachers, and other public employees. It adjusted pensions based on the cost of living.

Nelson said with that, the Governor has proven to back the blue.

“We believe he supports law enforcement and public safety,” said Nelson. “And so from that perspective we do think he’s the best candidate.”