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GOP Gubernatorial Runoff Is Finally Getting Dirty

11:35 AM EDT on August 13, 2018

Last Wednesday, Mick Cornett and Kevin Stitt, the two finalists in the GOP gubernatorial runoff, faced-off in a Republican gubernatorial debate awkwardly moderated by a gathering of News 9 and News on 6 All-Stars

If you suffered through the whole thing, congratulations, you're the editor of Non Doc. It was a boring low point on what had been a very boring runoff campaign. The questions were about as soft and useful as a roll of toilet paper. The candidates deflected each one with the greatest of ease, incorporating "As mayor, Oklahoma City was named blah blah blah" or "As a C.E.O., I know what it takes blah blah blah" into every canned response. Neither went on the offensive. Neither went on the defensive. They were just there.

Around the same time as the debate, a couple of polls came out showing Kevin Stitt was either tied or leading Cornett amongst Republican voters. This was a mild surprise. Cornett received 25,000 more votes that Stitt in the primary, but it was starting to look like Todd Lamb's voters – a coveted mix of churchy suburban whites, evangelical rural whites and backwoods racist whites – were going Stitt's way. As a result, a Pro-Mick Super PAC finally injected some life into the runoff campaign and released the first negative ad.

Check it out:

Although I would have gone the Gentner Drummond route and came out with guns blazing – twisting half-truths into outlandish claims that Kevin Stitt personally evicted old widows,  juxtaposed with a video of a younger, happier Mick interviewing old ladies at the Sooner State Games for the 5 Alive sports beat from 1992 – that's a solid start.

Cornett had to go this route. You can't argue against Kevin Stitt's financial and business success, but you can question the ways he achieved it. His mortgage company was one of many that did a bunch of shady shit during the mortgage boom. Was he successful? Yes. Were his customers? That's debatable. Business Insider once ranked Gateway as one of the shadiest mortgage companies that gets government subsidies. Where there's clickbait smoke, there's usually a fire gif. That being said, do the people who voted for a guy like Trump really care about some of Stitt's unscrupulous business dealings? I highly doubt it.

Stitt quickly responded to Cornett's ad with a press conference that looked like it was filmed in the conference room at Roman Nose State Lodge. Even though Stitt is running a campaign based on his record as CEO of Gateway Mortgage, he claimed that Cornett bringing up some negatives news about Gateway was nothing more than a sneaky politician doing sneaky politician things. Stitt called for the former OKC mayor to "run a clean campaign," and then – just like a true politician – responded with a dirty campaign ad of his own:

I know that Stitt, just like his mentor Trump, loves the "poorly educated," but at least have the class and dignity to spell "governor" correctly in your campaign ads.

Seriously, how do you misspell the office you're running for in a campaign ad? I thought a successful businessman was supposed to pay attention to details. Even Mary Fallin hasn't made that mistake... yet. She still has a few months left.

In normal times, being hesitant to endorse a racist stooge of a president who may be compromised by a foreign adversary would be considered a good thing, but not in the Great Red State of Oklahoma. Around here, questioning the decision to spend billions of dollars on an impractical border wall in the name of white nationalism is an act of defiance that can and will be used against you. Can Cornett withstand being labeled a "Never Trump(er)" in a primary filled with racist Derplahoma voters carrying Q signs? If you know the answer to that, you probably know who's going to win the runoff.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see where the negativity goes from here. Will Cornett's allies come out with an ad about Kevin Stitt's voting non-record or exotic eye brow treatments? Will Stitt try to label Cornett as a fake news peddler turned big spending R.I.N.O. because he worked in the media and supported MAPS? Let's hope the answers to all that is "Yes." We don't want this thing to get boring again.

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