Joy Hofmeister carried every county in Oklahoma on the way to a surprisingly easy primary victory over state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi and fellow challenger Brian Kelly on Tuesday.
Hofmeister, of Tulsa, was the top vote-getter in all 77 counties, receiving 57.6 percent of 262,041 votes cast statewide, compared to 21.4 percent for Kelly, of Edmond, and 21 percent for Barresi, of Oklahoma City, according to unofficial results from the state Election Board.
Hofmeister dominated Tulsa County, where she received 69 percent of the vote. Her margin of victory in Oklahoma County was not as decisive — 25,166 out of 54,356 votes (46 percent).
“This has been a grassroots effort like I have never seen,” Hofmeister told supporters in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. “Amazing.”
Barresi received 17,643 votes in Oklahoma County (32 percent), compared to 11,547 votes for Kelly, a former teacher, coach and administrator.
“I was pleased to do as well as I did, but to be honest with you, I expected to do better,” Kelly said Wednesday. “Both Janet Barresi and Joy Hofmeister have a lot of money behind them, and it is hard to defeat that kind of funding.”
Kelly said his low profile during the campaign was not by design, adding that he was not invited to most of the events and debates attended by the other candidates. He relied on social media along with radio, newspapers and mailers to get the word out.
“I do feel like there are some folks out there that most definitely did not want my vote heard,” he said.
In the Democratic primary, the top two vote-getters were Peggs Public Schools Superintendent John Cox, who received 41 percent of the vote, and Astec Charter School founder and operator Freda Deskin, with 38.2 percent.
Neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote, so they will meet in a runoff Aug. 26 to determine who faces Hofmeister in the Nov. 4 general election.
Deskin, though, captured 50.4 percent of the vote in Oklahoma County and 47.6 percent of votes in Tulsa County. Cox, by comparison, received 28 percent in Oklahoma County and 32.9 percent in Tulsa County.
“I think we have a strong rural following, but I also think that we have strong supporters in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas,” Cox said. “We just need to work harder to get our name out in those areas.”