I went to the Mayor Mick Watch Party at Tower Theater last night. That was a bummer.
I never go to these types of things. They’re not my style, and there’s always a chance a Hefner may stab me in the heart with an old bottle of Galimaro Sauce, but with some of my fellow poker buddies, trivia night hosts, Golden Tee tutors and daycare dads in attendance, I figured it would be nice to swing by. Plus, as a Joe Exotic-supporting liberal independent voter with no paw in the race, I thought it would be fun to observe the OKC GOP political establishment in its natural habitat.
Naturally, the first person I ran into at a Mick Cornett for Governor watch party was the last person you’d expect to run into at a Mick Cornett for Governor watch party – this guy:
Yeah, that’s right. Mick Cornett’s old burrito-slingin’ nemesis Steve Hunt was there and, surprisingly, he wasn’t being tackled by bodyguards in suits. I seriously had to do a double-take. It would be like seeing Gary Richardson waltz out of the restroom at Kevin Stitt’s watch party in Tulsa.
Steve and I talked for a bit, which probably didn’t look suspicious or weird to everyone else. I guess he was in the area and wanted to enjoy the Ned’s Catering spread. Who knows? I then chatted with some friends and navigated my way to a crowded bar.
By the time I got my Native Amber at 7:45 or so, the early results were in and it was not looking good for Team Cornett. Stitt had a commanding lead, and barring an 89er walkoff miracle, was going to win by a 10% margin. The friends, family members, campaign supporters, donors, staffers and pretty blonde bartenders were all trying to remain positive and calm, but the subdued sadness in the room was evident. It was like hanging out at O’Connell’s following an OU home loss. Everyone was walking around like they just bombed a job interview.
Obviously, there was a lot of media on hand. I conducted an impromptu social media interview with the Buganski and Brilbeck boys – which I think is also the name of an upcoming CBS cop buddy dramedy.
Live at the Mick Cornett watch party watching the media! https://t.co/GngzV7pMJs
— The Lost Ogle (@TheLostOgle) August 29, 2018
In another TLO Wayback Machine Moment, I gave a nod to KFOR’s Brent Skarky. He then promptly left to go change into a new pair of Crocs. I looked around, but couldn’t find Dave Morris anywhere.
The Tulsa anchors all seemed annoyed that they drove two hours to cover a loser. Cori Duke – the Tulsa version of a young Joleen Chaney – basically just frowned at her phone and pouted, while some chizzle-jawed guy from News on 6 stared blankly into a camera for what seemed like hours, waiting for a live report that never materialized.
At about 8:45 or so, Mick Cornett and his wife Terri took the stage to give a concession speech. The room was so full that I had to watch it on the KOCO feed in the back on the Jumbotron:
Mick Cornett is giving his concession speech. pic.twitter.com/6bwvlVc9HG
— The Lost Ogle (@TheLostOgle) August 29, 2018
I had two takeaways from the speech:
1. Unless I missed it, Cornett didn’t mention Kevin Stitt’s name once. There wasn’t a “good luck” or “Congratulations” or tongue in cheek “Tonight’s results were Bill Stitt!” He pretended the guy didn’t exist, but you know those dashing eye brows had to haunt him.
2. The speech served as a quazi-retirement announcement. I think Mick will still be in the public eye in some capacity – maybe the Thunder will hire him to be the team’s new play-by-play announcer – but his political career looks like it’s going the way of his hairline. Who knows, maybe he’ll pull a Drew and run for Governor again in eight years, but I doubt it. Running for office is taxing, tiring and frustrating, especially when you don’t win, and he still has a baseball card collection to manage.
Following the speech, Mick made his way through the crowd shaking hands, thanking people, spreading germs, etc. He then made the long trek through media row, trying to remain positive and professional in the aftermath of a difficult defeat.
As the crowd from the watch party slowly began to fizzle out, I camped out by the bar and played Monday morning quarterback with a couple other observers. What did the Cornett campaign do right? What did the campaign do wrong? What should they have done differently to win?
Answering those questions is probably for a different article. The Cornett campaign definitely didn’t run a perfect campaign – especially after the first primary – and they should have done things differently, but I’m not sure any of it would have mattered. The GOP governors race feels like it was nothing but a match of rock (Stitt), paper ( Lamb), scissors (Cornett). Two of the three would make a runoff, and those outcomes were predetermined. All three guys could win. They just needed the right opponent. Stitt won that draw. Mick didn’t.
With the GOP race for Governor settled, we’re now getting prepped for 10 fun weeks of general election campaigning. The candidates – Drew Edmondson and Kevin Stitt – couldn’t be any more different. One is tall. The other is short. One is am anti-establishment rightwing outsider who doesn’t vote. The other is a liberal insider from a political dynasty. One is trying to ride to victory on Trump’s coattails. The other is trying to surf into the Governor’s mansion on a blue wave. It should be a fun race to watch and observe… unless you go to the losing candidate’s watch party.
Patrick has to pick up a baby at daycare at 2:30 each day. We’ll have more election stuff later tonight or tomorrow.