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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former Oklahoma City mayor and a Tulsa businessman who ran as a political outsider are advancing to a runoff for the Republican nomination in the race to become Oklahoma’s next governor.

Mick Cornett, a former four-term mayor, advanced to an Aug. 28 runoff with Kevin Stitt, who leveraged his status as an outsider to knock off Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, the early favorite and the establishment pick to win the nomination.

Stitt, the founder of Gateway Mortgage Company, also had a $4.2 million campaign war chest, the most of any candidate in the race, and tapped into an anti-incumbency mood among the Oklahoma electorate that resulted in six Republican incumbents getting bounced from office on Tuesday.

“I think we need some new blood,” said retired teacher Cindy Hazelwood, 64, who said she voted for Stitt in Oklahoma City.

Stitt’s fundraising total also included $2.1 million in personal loans to his campaign.

With no race for the U.S. Senate this cycle, much of the money and attention focused on the 15 candidates trying to succeed term-limited Gov. Mary Fallin.

Cornett, who served four terms as mayor, helped oversee a revitalization of the state’s capital city that included landing an NBA basketball team.

Other candidates in the GOP field included Tulsa trial attorney Gary Richardson, state Auditor Gary Jones and ex-state Rep. Dan Fisher, a fiery Baptist preacher whose campaign centers on the abolition of abortion.

On the Democratic side of the governor’s race, former four-term state Attorney General Drew Edmondson, 71, secured the nomination over ex-state Sen. Connie Johnson, 66, the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Johnson, a longtime marijuana legalization advocate, had hoped to leverage her popularity with pot supporters to pull an upset over Edmondson, whose $1.5 million in contributions was more than 20 times as much as she raised.

Two Libertarian candidates also advanced to a runoff: Chris Powell and Rex Lawhorn.

Oklahoma’s next governor will take over as head of a state government just beginning to rebound after facing several consecutive years of cuts to agency budgets. Revenue collections have been steadily increasing over the last year, and lawmakers this year already approved a series of tax increases to fund pay raises for teachers and help shore up the state budget.


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