Oklahoma Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt talks with Oklahoman political reporter Ben Felder in the studios of NewsOK Wednesday morning, Nov. 7, 2018. Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY – Immediately after the election was called Tuesday night, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol began providing security for Governor-elect Kevin Stitt and his family.

Stitt and his family will have a security detail for as long as he is in the governor’s office, as did the governors who served before him.

It was the first noticeable indication of Stitt’s new reality.

“The governor-elect is the next leader of the state of Oklahoma,” said Public Safety Commissioner Rusty Rhoades. “In order to ensure the safe and successful succession of power in the state, we provide the security detail.”

The next morning, Stitt’s staff was given access to the transition office on the first floor on the east side of the Capitol.

Stitt on Tuesday defeated Democrat Drew Edmondson in a race to see who would succeed Gov. Mary Fallin, who is finishing the last year of her second term.

Stitt is expected to be sworn in at noon Jan. 14 on the south steps of the Capitol as the state’s 28th governor.

Stitt and some of his staff members met with Fallin and her staff on Wednesday, said Michael McNutt, a Fallin spokesman.

“The governor talked with Gov.-elect Stitt and then gave him a general tour of the governor’s office,” McNutt said. “She also took him to the first floor to view his transition office.”

Stitt will not immediately move into the governor’s office on the second floor of the Capitol even after taking the oath of office.

“The governor’s office on the second floor at this time is being renovated for the Capitol restoration project,” said Shelley Zumwalt, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director of public affairs.

The renovations to the second floor office space begin when Fallin’s term is over, Zumwalt said.

The project will take about a year, Zumwalt said.

Chris Benge, Fallin’s chief of staff, said her office has provided Stitt’s transition team with several documents and information to assist in the transition.

“Unless you are in the middle of this every day, most people can’t relate to how much is dealt with in this office,” Benge said.

He said he expects Fallin’s office will have a lot of contact with Stitt’s transition team during the next few weeks.

Stitt will also have access to the governor’s mansion near the Capitol.

The 90-year-old residence is in need of work on its heating and cooling system, plumbing system and to correct water infiltration, said Dan Ross, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director of capital assets management.

“It will be a conversation to have with the governor-elect and his family and his administration,” Ross said. “We also still have to evaluate whether or not we have the funding.”

Stitt has said he will continue to live in Jenks and commute through the first five or six months of 2019 so that his daughter can finish high school with her class.

He has said he intends for the rest of them to move to Oklahoma City after the graduation.

The mansion has four bedrooms and an apartment above the carriage house, Ross said.

It has a little under 13,000 square feet and a 2,000-square-foot carriage house, Ross said.

Built in 1928, a pool was later added to the now fully furnished residence.

Baylee Lakey, a spokeswoman for Stitt, said he is currently focused on building a transition team and an inauguration team.

Additional details are expected to be released at a later date.

Stitt is expected to give his first state-of-the-state address to a joint legislative session Feb. 4 in the House chamber.

Barbara Hoberock



Twitter: @bhoberock

Capitol Bureau Writer

Barbara has covered the statehouse since 1994. She covers politics, appellate courts and state agencies. She has worked for the Tulsa World since 1990. Phone: 405-528-2465