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State Election Board Throws out Challenge to Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter's Candidacy

State of Oklahoma-File photo

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter remains on the ballot after a Republican challenger contested his candidacy.

Gentner Drummond tried to make the case that Hunter’s time with D.C. lobbying firms between 2002 and 2015 meant he was not a bona fide resident of Oklahoma for 10 years prior to filing for the 2018 election and therefore ineligible. 

In addition to arguing Hunter gave up his homestead exemption in Oklahoma, indicating he was no longer a resident, Attorney Garry Gaskins pointed election board Chair Steve Curry to a TV interview with Hunter.

"He uses the term ‘move back to Oklahoma,’ and that’s the issue that I believe is important, is the terminology that he used," Gaskins said.

"OK. Do you stipulate that you moved back to Oklahoma?" Curry said to Hunter.

"I will stipulate to that, Mr. Chairman," Hunter said.

"Alright," Curry said.

"OK," Gaskins said.

Precedent allows for many factors to be considered together to show someone is a bona fide resident. Attorney Neal Leader said Hunter owns a home in Edmond, pays state taxes, has held an Oklahoma drivers license continuously and votes in local elections.

"They maintain an endowed scholarship at the College of Agriculture at OSU throughout this entire period. And he even came back to Oklahoma for his colonoscopy," Leader said.

Curry spoke before the election board ruled 3–0 against Drummond.

"I’ve thought this over and over again as to whether Mr. Hunter has abandoned and ever abandoned his property with an intent never to return," Curry said. "I think that intent never to return is a very high bar to be met, and a difficult one."

Hunter was appointed attorney general by Gov. Mary Fallin in 2016 to replace Scott Pruitt and is running for the second time. He lost to Drew Edmondson in 1994.

In addition to Hunter and Drummond, Republican Angela Bonilla and Democrat Mark Myles are running for attorney general.

This story was corrected April 24 to include Hunter's 1994 campaign for attorney general.