A nurse and a rancher are running for an open seat in Senate District 28, and both say they aim to advocate for rural communities.
When current Sen. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole) decided not to seek reelection, four Republicans and two Democrats filed to succeed him in SD 28, which was modified in the recent redistricting and includes all of Lincoln and Seminole counties and parts of Pottawatomie, Oklahoma and Logan counties.
Grant Green, 53, a rancher from Wellston, ultimately won the Republican nomination.
Now he faces Democrat Karen Rackley, 52, who is from Chandler and works as a nurse practitioner for CoreCivic, a national private prison company.
Oklahoma’s general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting runs from Wednesday, Nov. 2 through Saturday, Nov. 5. More details are available from the Oklahoma State Election Board.
On the issues
Rackley said improving Oklahoma’s health care services was one of the main things that motivated her to enter the race.
“I’ve watched over the years services in our communities — especially in rural Oklahoma — just go bye-bye, and nobody does anything about it,” Rackley said.
Rackley said she particularly wants to improve access to mental health care, which she said is hard to get in rural areas. She said she has seen the need up close while working in a corrections facility.
“A large percentage of those patients use mental health care, but you shouldn’t have to go to jail or prison to have access to the care you need,” Rackley said.
Rackley also said she wants to support educators and law enforcement. She thinks Oklahoma’s education system should be more supportive of students who choose to attend trade school or enter the workforce after high school, rather than going to a four-year college. And she believes treating teachers better is key to solving the state’s teacher shortage.
“The biggest deal with teachers is just a lack of respect, and they don’t really get supported by their administration and that’s not right,” Rackley said. “Yes, their pay is probably not what it needs to be, but their pay is not their only issue.”
In addition to being a rancher, Green is a former small-business owner. He and his brother co-owned Green’s Propane (a company started by their father) from 2004 to 2016, when Green became the sole owner. He sold the business two years ago.
“When I sold my business in 2020, I was really planning on just ranching,” he said.
But his experiences as a business owner and his views on how taxes, fees and regulations can hurt small businesses are part of what made him run for office.
“And that’s part of my motivation is just to try to make it easier on small businesses,” Green said.
Green said that, if elected, he wants to improve Oklahoma’s economy by attracting more businesses and more people to the state.
“To draw people into the state, I don’t think incentivizing people is the right way to do it,” Green said. “I would rather have a rebate system that once people get here and get established — we can rebate their efforts.”
As Election Day draws nearer, Rackley said she is the better candidate because she is in the race “for the right reasons.” Green’s primary runoff opponent, Jeff McCommas, made a similar claim during his campaign.
“I’m not bought and paid for — I’m not running on lobbyists’ money,” Rackley said.
According to campaign finance reports, Rackley has funded her campaign with her own money.
When asked about taking money from interest groups back in August before the runoff election, Green, who has taken money from union PACs and a PAC founded by current state House members, said he took money from groups representing “rural things near and dear to our hearts.”
“I do feel like it’s easy to say you don’t take any of that money when it’s not offered to you,” Green said.