We’re two days into the first term for Oklahoma’s new governor, Kevin Stitt. On the surface, he seems like a standard Republican – pro-life, pro-guns, anti-regulations, anti-taxes. But once we dig a little deeper, we see there’s a lot more that separates Stitt from the old guard in the Republican Party.
This is Stitt’s first job in politics. He was CEO of Gateway Mortgage Group since founding the company in 2000. Unlike career politicians who work their way up the political ladder, Stitt spent his adult life in business working with other CEOs, hiring employees, working deals, and building a company that now operates in all 50 states.
His career path may sound similar to President Trump’s, but there’s one major difference. Stitt didn’t start off with multiple large loans from his family to get his business started. He had “$1000 and a computer” when he launched his company. He stayed with the company and kept it laser-focused rather than diversifying into other arenas as President Trump did. You won’t find Stitt Vodka or Stitt University in his history.
What you will find is a richly philanthropic history. His company launched the Gateway Christian School in a small village in Nigeria that educates 300 students every year. He then started the Gateway Youth Ranch in Uganda to teach traditional as well as life skills to youths in the area. His company also partnered with Folds of Honor, a non-profit scholarship program for the families of fallen and disabled members of the U.S. armed forces.
As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Stitt made history by becoming the first Native American to serve as a governor in the United States.
But the aspect that truly makes Stitt stand out as a prototype for the new Republican Party is his moral record. His willingness to invoke his faith within his decision-making process was once common in both parties. Today, it’s almost completely relegated to a small portion of the Republican Party. It’s a trait that needs to come back in full force within the party if it’s going to continue to thrive.
Over the last two decades, member of the GOP have been embroiled in embarrassing scandals to the point that “Republican family values” became a punchline. Stitt’s squeaky-clean nature and God-driven leadership style is in stark contrast to many leaders within the Republican Party, including the man at the top. For all of President Trump’s strengths, moral and Biblical fortitude have never been considered a strong point. His supporters vouch for his faith, or at least his willingness to act on behalf of those within the faith. But Stitt and some of his national Republican supporters such as Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Ted Cruz, and former U.S. Senators Rick Santorum and Tom Coburn live their lives with a worn Bible on their nightstands.
It’s too early to know if Kevin Stitt will be a successful governor, but as people like Beto O’Rourke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez push the Democrats further to the left, it will be people like Stitt who can hopefully push the Republican Party back to the right.