Mauree Turner has defeated House District 88 incumbent Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC), coming a step closer to becoming the first Muslim ever to serve in the Oklahoma Legislature. In another tight Oklahoma City race, incumbent Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-OKC) retained House District 99 against a strong challenger in Susan Porter.
Since there is no Republican in the HD 99 race, Pittman will keep the seat without participating in the Nov. 3 general election. Turner now faces Republican opponent Kelly Barlean to secure the HD 88 seat, which has been solidly Democratic in recent elections.
Pittman won HD 99 by 213 votes. In HD 88, Turner scored a 250-vote win, according to unofficial online results from the Oklahoma State Election Board.
Mauree Turner chasing Oklahoma history
Although Turner is a legislative newcomer, her civic experience includes serving as a board member for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a leader in the American Civil Liberties Union’s “Campaign for Smart Justice,” a criminal justice reform effort.
Turner wrote on her campaign website that she would continue to focus on criminal justice reform if elected, and would also prioritize teacher pay rates and education funding, increasing the minimum wage, improving health care access and increasing “inclusivity.”
In her campaign announcement, Turner said there had “never been a more important time for those closest to our state’s problems” to help find solutions. In an interview with The Oklahoman, Turner added that she experienced problems with Oklahoma’s high incarceration rate first-hand, since her father spent time in prison.
During the election cycle, Turner received endorsements from local progressive Democrats including Oklahoma City Councilwomen JoBeth Hammon and Nikki Nice, as well as U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Dunnington released a statement around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday wishing Turner well.
“Representing House District 88 the past six years has been an incredible honor. I’m very proud of the work we’ve accomplished,” Dunnington said. “In this era of partisan politics, it is more important than ever to find ways to work together for the greater good of our state. I wish Mauree Turner the best as they lead this amazing district forward. Together we can build a future that is better than the history of our past.”
Pittman continues family tradition
Pittman’s primary victory has secured HD 99, a seat which has a history in her family. HD 99 was previously held by her mother Anastasia Pittman from 2006 to 2013.
The second-youngest Oklahoma legislator will now enter her second term. During her first two-year stint, Pittman regularly hosted Facebook discussions on mental health and supported the Black Lives Matter movement. Pittman wrote on her campaign website she hopes to “renew and transform our community through collective partnerships, education, and local businesses.”
(Update: This story was updated at 10:20 p.m., June 30, to include the final results of the House District 88 Democratic primary election reported by the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website.)