Former Sen. Connie Johnson has filed to seek the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s nomination for governor next year.
Johnson registered her campaign Monday, according to data from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Donald Heath is listed as the campaign’s treasurer.
Johnson held the Senate District 48 seat in eastern Oklahoma County for two terms from 2006 through 2014.
The 68-year-old Johnson is no stranger to running for statewide office, having run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018 when she finished second with 38.6 percent of the primary vote behind former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.
In 2014, Johnson won her party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate, the first time a black woman had done so for a statewide office in Oklahoma. She picked up 58 percent of the vote in the primary race against perennial candidate Jim Rogers. James Lankford defeated Johnson in the general election by nearly 40 points.
Johnson did not respond to a phone call and a text message seeking comment prior to the publication of this story.
Background on Connie Johnson
Johnson was born in Holdenville but grew up in Oklahoma City, graduating from Douglass High School. She would later attend the University of Pennsylvania earning a bachelor’s degree in French and a masters degree in education. Johnson also earned a masters from Langston University in rehabilitation counseling.
In the State Senate, Johnson served on the Health and Human Services, Energy, Finance and Rules committees. She also chaired several party organizations, including Senate Democrat Outreach Committee, and she was a past chairperson of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus.
Johnson was also an early marijuana reform advocate, introducing legislation to legalize it in 2007. She supported a campaign against State Question 776, which affirmed the state’s right to conduct executions.
Johnson said in 2009 that the death penalty and incarceration were expensive drains on the state budget.
“It’s time to start looking at the cost of incarceration and the death penalty,” Johnson said. “We need to take a dollars-and-cents point of view.”
In her 2018 race for governor, Johnson, who authored several bills relating to marijuana legalization while in the Senate, highlighted her views on legalization.
“I’m the only candidate with the knowledge and education for cannabis reform in a progressive way. I’m the only one — I’m just saying,” Johnson said over the applause.