(Update: This story has been updated Aug. 22 to include additional information about the campaigns for HD 97 in northeast Oklahoma City.)
Both candidates in the HD 97 Democratic runoff took out advertising that provides perspective on their candidacies’ narratives in the Aug. 18 edition of the Black Chronicle newspaper.
Jason Lowe purchased both an ad for his law firm and one for his campaign. The campaign ad, on page five, tells a story of a non-black teacher who “questioned whether or not I would live past the age of 18.” He says she wrote him off “because I didn’t look like her, sound like her or come from where she came from.” Lowe’s tale of racial bias goes on to say “it made me realize that we are living in a world full of people that refuse to value diversity. I am thankful.”
Then, Lowe’s ad continues in the same paragraph to emphasize that he considers Oklahoma City to be “my home” after he moved to OKC “almost 20 years ago.” The reference appears to be addressing criticisms Lowe has faced for not being a northeast OKC native like his opponent, Chris Harrison.
Lowe’s ad ends with him saying he has “made this my home with more than three offices all over the state. I have planted seeds in our churches, our school districts, our communities…this is my home.”
On page seven, Harrison’s ad highlights several endorsements he has received from local black leaders, and it lists his “priorities.” They are: Fund our public schools; raise teacher pay; build new jobs; raise the minimum wage.
Harrison’s endorsements come from primary opponent Camal Pennington, Sen. Anastasia Pittman (D-OKC), retired educator and civil rights leader Joyce Henderson, Rev. Lee E. Cooper, Jr., and pastor John A. Reed, Jr.
Reed, himself a prominent civil rights advocate and community voice, notes that “Chris (Harrison) has Christian qualities that will make him a great leader.”
The remaining endorsements focus on the term “leadership” as well, though Pittman’s concludes with an awkward sentence: “We need to elect leaders who understand our community, and is purpose driven, with a servants heart.” (sic)
(Editor’s Note: The following was our original #OKrunoffs piece on HD 97 that first published Aug. 12.)
Northeast Oklahoma City is slowly embarking upon a long-awaited revitalization that includes major commercial projects, TIF districts, charter school expansion, a new farmer’s market and calls for greater investment of public works projects in the area.
Four Dems compete to succeed Mike Shelton in HD 97 by William W. Savage III
Attorney Jason Lowe received 46.5 percent of the primary vote, while Chris Harrison took 25.4 percent and Camal Pennington received 25.2 percent.
Pennington finished only six votes shy of Harrison to enter the August runoff against Lowe. Willis Washington received 3 percent of the vote.
New York-native Jason Lowe is a criminal-defense attorney with a downtown OKC office. He “will fight for YOU!” as evidenced in the above television commercial wherein he points at the camera seven times and the floor twice in a mere 28 seconds.
Lowe’s legal billboards have been up in the district for a while, helping him erase a name-recognition advantage that his runoff opponent might otherwise have after growing up in the district.
Voters can get a glimpse of how an “admittedly” nervous Lowe might be during floor speeches in this campaign announcement video, which features supporter testimony of the candidate. (“He knows a lot about different laws,” says one supporter. “He’s all about that community,” says another.)
Speaking of community, Lowe’s law firm will host its seventh annual Family Fun Day at the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The event offers free backpacks, school supplies, haircuts and health screenings, according to its flier.
“For more than 6 years, I have invested in House District 97,” Lowe posted on his Facebook the day before the June 28 primary. “From our annual Family Fun Day (giving away more than 10,000 backpacks and health screenings to families) to our One Book, One Child Literacy Project. I have been giving to House District 97 way before I ever asked for a vote.”
Millwood Public Schools board member Christopher Harrison refers to himself as the “education candidate” in a July 22 video on his Facebook page. He also emphasizes his long ties to the community, a potential area of mild distinction between him and Lowe.
A funeral director, Harrison received the endorsement of primary opponent Pennington in early July. He also received the Oklahoma State Chamber’s endorsement in the primary.
Harrison’s Facebook page is full of short videos he has posted while walking neighborhoods and knocking doors. He took time out in early July to call for a noon prayer following the shooting of police officers in Dallas (and the shooting of black men across the nation in 2016).
The candidate’s statements also emphasize his background in and passion for education.
“I don’t have to tell you how important it is to have a proven advocate for public education representing us at the Capitol,” Harrison posted on Aug. 8. “Just last week it was reported that some schools in the metro area can’t afford to run air conditioning while our kids are in class. These are the sacrifices that years of irresponsible budget cuts have forced students and teachers to accept.”
The winner of the Aug. 23 Democratic runoff in HD 97 will face Republican Tonni Canaday in November’s general election.
(Editor’s Note: As with NonDoc’s #HotRaces series from June, time constraints and limited resources prohibit us from personally interviewing each of almost 30 candidates from Oklahoma’s ongoing runoff elections that we’ve chosen to include in a new series: #OKrunoffs. Instead, we’ve opted to filter information about runoff contenders using publicly available information online and present it through the lens of political commentary and analysis. As the field narrows leading up to the general election Nov. 8, we plan to reach out to remaining candidates more directly.)