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'We do not believe in Kevin Stitt': leaders in the Okla. veteran community endorse Hofmeister for governor

Photo by Joshua J. Seybert
U.S. Air Force

Warning: this article contains profanity

Leaders of Oklahoma’s veteran community are endorsing Democratic candidate for governor Joy Hofmeister.

On Friday, news outlet KTUL published a letter to Hofmeister signed by several prominent Oklahoma vets saying they’re forming a team to push for Hofmeister’s election.

“We believe in Joy!” the letter reads. “We do not believe in Kevin Stitt.”

Larry Van Schuyver, a retired Navy master chief, said in an interview with Public Radio Tulsa that he thinks Hofmeister is more empathetic than incumbent Stitt.

“She is open to listen to concerns and reach out to subject matter experts, not only on mental health but on suicide prevention, women’s issues, childcare issues. She’s open to listen. She’s not a ‘my way or the highway’ type person.”

Van Schuyver has two lawsuits pending against Stitt. One alleges that Van Schuyver and another veteran, Pete Costilow, were firedfrom the Oklahoma Veterans Commission for not supporting Stitt during his primary campaign. Van Schuyver said Hofmeister called him after the firings for no other purpose than to express concern and he felt she was genuine.

The other suit Van Schuyver is involved in alleges Stitt replaced Van Schuyver using an illegal method.

The same attorney, Mark Hammons, is working both cases and depositions are set to begin soon, said Van Schuyver.

“I think people are gonna be surprised at some of the depositions, retaliations, freedom of speech violations.”

Van Schuyver said the team of veterans supporting Hofmeister is speaking as much as possible to other veterans about their endorsement.

“I just tell them my opinion and why I’m voting the way I am, and what it means for our fellow veterans across the state, to not look at the party but look at the person. We encourage every veteran to vote, obviously, however they want to vote. We fought for that right. We served for that right. So I encourage them, don't stay home, don’t ride it out, get out and vote.

You always have the some who say, ‘I’m not gonna vote for a Democrat.’ Okay. Then you’re voting party, not person. We’re never mad at each other, though, for how they vote. We don’t have the internal strife the governor attempted to cause us. All he did was make us stronger and piss us off,” said Van Schuyver.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.