Oklahoma Sees Growing Number of Women Candidates

Aug 11, 2018

Oklahoma voters will see an unprecedented number of women on the state ballot when they head to the polls this fall.

Of the 55 women who've have already made it to the Nov. 6 general election for state House and Senate seats, 45 are Democrats and 10 are Republicans, The Enid News & Eagle reported . Another 30 women face runoffs later this month.

The 55 women already on the general election ballot represent a 34 percent increase over 2016, according to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest attributes part of the increase in women candidates to the increased political engagement spurred by an April teacher walkout.

"While some have been planning and preparing to run for much longer, last spring's walkout certainly greatly impacted the number of education-friendly candidates running for office this year," Priest said. "The election filing period coincided with the statewide walkout that garnered support from over 90 percent of Oklahomans."

Jennie Scott, a teacher at Garfield Elementary School, said the teacher walkout was a key event that influenced her decision to run for office. She said education, health care cuts and criminal justice reforms have been the major concerns for women on the campaign trail.

"I think there are a lot of women who have been personally affected by some of these issues," Scott said, "And some of them, I think, just could no longer accept how we've been running things."

Only 14 percent of Oklahoma's House and Senate seats are filled by women, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.