While much of the nation was focused on the upset in Tuesday night’s Democratic gubernatorial primary in Florida, several Oklahoma lawmakers also lost their primaries.
Specifically, six Republican lawmakers who voted against a tax increase to fund higher salaries for teachers.
According to CBS News, groups like the Oklahoma Education Association (which helped organize the statewide teacher walkout earlier this year) organized against the 19 House Republicans who voted against the bill to fund teacher salary increases. Only four of those 19 made it to the general election, with seven of those remaining opting to retire instead of run for another term. Eight failed to clinch their nominations, including six who were defeated in Tuesday’s primary runoffs.
CBS also reported that so far this year, a dozen GOP lawmakers have already lost their jobs in the wake of the teacher walkout, before Democrats even had a chance to run against them in the November general election.
“The majority of my support, that’s what it was. It was all based on education,” said assistant principal Sherrie Conley, who defeated three-term incumbent lawmaker Bobby Cleveland on Tuesday night despite being as much as 30 points down. “Just about every door I knocked on, the issue would come up.”
Grit Post was on the ground in Oklahoma City on the first day of the walkout in April, where as many as 30,000 teachers converged on the state capitol to protest meager pay and benefits. The walkout affected more than half a million students, who were out of class during the walkout due to the vast majority of teachers being out of the classroom. Teachers in Tulsa, Oklahoma walked the entire 110-mile distance to the state capitol to join the walkout.
The legislation was ultimately signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin (R), who is term-limited and cannot run for another term. Kevin Stitt, the Republican seeking the governorship, said he would not have signed the bill, drawing a sharp contrast between him and his Democratic opponent, Drew Edmondson, who joined teachers outside of the capitol during their walkout.
Nick Jewell is a freelance political writer, and a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.