The candidates in House District 99 are no strangers to the Oklahoma Capitol.
Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-OKC), the incumbent, has served in the House for two years, holding a seat that was once occupied by her mother, former Rep. and Sen. Anastasia Pittman, who served HD 99 from 2006 to 2013. The older Pittman then went on to serve in the State Senate and make an unsuccessful 2018 bid for lieutenant governor.
Meanwhile, Ajay Pittman’s challenger in the 2020 race for House District 99, Susan Porter, is the daughter of Oklahoma’s first African-American State Sen. E. Melvin Porter. He served Senate District 48 for more than 20 years, from 1964 until 1987.
Pittman and Porter will face off in the Democratic primary on June 30. The race did not draw any other candidates, so the winner of the primary will go on to hold the seat.
Pittman is currently the second-youngest member of the Legislature. She serves on the House Agriculture and Rural Development, Public Health, Human Services and Transportation committees.
The following overview of the candidates was derived from publicly available information.
House District 99 at a glance
Officeholder: Rep. Ajay Pittman
ZIP codes represented: 73102, 73104, 73105, 73111, 73114, 73116, 73117, 73118, 73120, 73121, 73129, 73134
Counties represented: Oklahoma
Ajay Pittman (D)
Town: Oklahoma City
Profession: Pittman’s campaign website says her career experience includes “corrections at the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department and Health & Wellness Coordinator for OU Physicians in Corporate Health.”
Platform: According to her website, Pittman hopes to “renew and transform our community through collective partnerships, education, and local businesses.” Her website emphasizes her connection to the state as a sixth-generation Oklahoman and a member of the Seminole Nation. Pittman, 26, also highlights her youth, calling herself part of a “new generation of leaders.”
Pittman’s website does not include a policy section. It does include various press releases from her first term in the Legislature, but it does not include her garbled press release about COVID-19 sent to media at 11:48 p.m., Wednesday, April 22.
During her first campaign, in 2018, Pittman offered alternate theories for having pleaded nolo contendere to a shoplifting charge at the Belle Isle Walmart in 2016. At the time, Pittman maintained she was not aware of the conviction, suggesting it could have been a mistake on Walmart’s part, an “accident on camera” or an instance where someone might have impersonated her.
Pittman hosts discussions on mental health every Sunday on her Facebook page. She has also supported the Black Lives Matter movement and has shared updates from protests on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Susan Porter (D)
Town: Oklahoma City
Profession: Spanish teacher for private businesses and organizations; regional manager of operations for Heartland Dental; owner of the consulting business Mojo Original
Platform: Porter’s website asserts that “our state has steered in the wrong direction,” citing cuts to public education funding and an increasing prison population. “A vote for me means a vote for change,” Porter said in one of her YouTube videos.
Her platform focuses on economic opportunity, education and health care. Porter says she wants to help small business owners and “ensure her constituents have the best opportunities available to advance economically.” She promises to advocate for increased spending on education, including financial assistance to students attending higher education institutions and trade schools. Porter is also running on expanding health care access and promoting prevention and awareness of health issues.
Porter is the chairwoman of the health committee in Oklahoma’s chapter of the NAACP. In that role, she published an op-ed calling the state’s May re-opening “irresponsible,” citing the disparate impact COVID-19 has on low-income communities and communities of color.
On her Facebook page, Porter has expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and she has appeared in a panel conversation with Pittman that can be found on her Facebook page, along with several videos of other virtual events.
The election between Pittman and Porter for House District 99 will be held on Tuesday, June 30.