By SEAN MURPHY
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The first Republican candidate to challenge Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he’s leaving the party and will run as an independent. Former state Sen. Ervin Yen, an Oklahoma City physician, is the second GOP elected official to leave the party, in part over Stitt’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Republican State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced earlier this month she was changing her party affiliation to Democrat and planned to run against Stitt. Yen said Tuesday that “the Oklahoma GOP has left me.” He says he disagrees with the state party’s opposition to mask and vaccine mandates, and the position of some party officials that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.