Stitt welcomes Cornett's endorsement but not Fallin's
More than six weeks after losing the runoff election to become his party's nominee for governor, former Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett has publicly endorsed Kevin Stitt.
Cornett's endorsement of the Republican candidate may not be surprising, but it came several weeks after the end of a campaign that turned negative down the stretch.
"I believe Kevin Stitt is the right candidate to move Oklahoma forward, to raise the standards on education and health, and to demand better outcomes from our state government," Cornett said in a Thursday morning statement.
Stitt has also received the public endorsement of Gov. Mary Fallin.
"I, of course being Republican, support Kevin Stitt as the candidate because I think he will keep up a lot of the things we've done to make Oklahoma more business-friendly," Fallin told the Enid News & Eagle on Monday.
However, Stitt has positioned himself as a political outsider who doesn't plan to follow Fallin's agenda.
"We did not seek (Fallin's endorsement), and Kevin Stitt has run on a campaign message that he will do things a lot differently," said Donelle Harder, spokeswoman for the Stitt campaign. "He is focused on changing the structure of state government and cleaning up the mess we are currently in at the Capitol."
After eight years as governor, Fallin will leave office in January due to term limits. She has some of the lowest approval ratings for governor in the nation and has overseen the state during multiple budget cuts and service reductions.
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The Nov. 6 gubernatorial ballot includes Stitt, Democrat Drew Edmondson and Libertarian Chris Powell.
In his endorsement, Cornett said Stitt would bring "trustworthy leadership to unify our state and get our fiscal house in order."
However, in the weeks leading up to the runoff, Cornett's campaign aired commercials questioning the business practices of Stitt's mortgage company, Gateway Mortgage Group.
In the August Republican runoff, Stitt beat Cornett by 10 percentage points.
Cornett did not mention Stitt by name in his concession speech on election night, but the two met privately one week after the runoff and have exchanged multiple phone calls since, Harder said.
"We really welcome the mayor's endorsement and we know that he is very well respected across the state and we appreciate his support," Harder said.
There are no immediate plans for Cornett to join Stitt for any campaign events.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story indicated Gov. Mary Fallin’s endorsement of Kevin Stitt came recently. However, she publicly endorsed Stitt for governor the day after he won a Republican runoff on Aug. 28.