Joy Hofmeister: Oklahoma state superintendent changes parties and enters 2022 gubernatorial race

“I think Governor Stitt is crushing Oklahoma,” Hofmeister told Tulsa World in an interview. “I’m changing parties to run as a Democrat and that’s because I also believe in the values ​​of supporting public education, quality and good access to health care, as well as rural infrastructure. “

Hofmeister told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday that his decision came with “a lot of personal thought.”

“Governor Stitt has hijacked the Republican Party here in Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said on “OutFront.” “The divisive extremism and partisanship has really left a lot of Oklahomais behind, and I think there is too much to fight for to just let go of that.”

Stitt’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the main reasons for Hofmeister’s decision to challenge the incumbent, she said, and she told Burnett that “we needed a leader who could have prepared Oklahoman for the pandemic. life.”

Like several other Republican governors nationwide, Stitt has targeted local school boards for their student mask mandates, challenging local officials in the Oklahoma City School District and the Cherokee Nation after signing legislation in May. instituting a statewide ban on these warrants, CNN previously reported. .

As of October 7, Oklahoma had recorded 9,213 deaths from Covid and 622,335 confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Stitt’s re-election campaign said in a statement, obtained by Tulsa World, “Oklahoma residents across the state overwhelmingly support Stitt’s results-oriented Conservative leadership. After decades of politicians leaving us to Last place, Stitt has already a proven track record of advancing Oklahoma to the Top Ten in critical categories while protecting our fundamental freedoms and values. ”
In an interview with KOCO, Hofmeister highlighted other issues facing rural Oklahoma, saying, “I’m really interested in making sure that we have access to this high quality health care. We know that it is. ‘is one area Oklahoma has struggled with, with rural hospitals, “citing resource and understaffing issues. She also called for” statewide broadband access, “said that “it should be a basic public service”.
“It will be a tough fight,” Hofmeister told Tulsa World, acknowledging the high odds she faces in a heavily Republican state. “But we can and will move Oklahoma forward, and it’s worth it and there’s too much at stake not to fight.”

This story was updated with additional details on Friday.

CNN’s Alta Spells and Rachel Janfaza contributed to this report.

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