Former state Senator Connie Johnson desires to create “Oklahoma 2.0”.
With a marketing campaign targeted on increasing well being care, infrastructure and Oklahoma’s relationship with hashish, Johnson is in search of a second probability to turn into the primary Black governor of the state.
Regardless of her 2018 loss in Oklahoma’s Democratic Main for Governor, Johnson grew to become the primary Democratic candidate for Oklahoma’s 2022 gubernatorial elections when she filed with the ethics fee in Might, in keeping with the Associated Press.
“I’m nonetheless operating, I don’t consider I ever stopped operating. I simply consider it wasn’t my time but,” Johnson stated in an interview with The Black Wall St. Occasions.
Johnson ran in 2018 as an unapologetic progressive identified for her opposition to the loss of life penalty and her steadfast assist for medicinal hashish. She completed second within the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with 38.6 p.c of the first vote. She finally misplaced to former Oklahoma Lawyer Common Drew Edmondson, whose profession included avid assist for the loss of life penalty.
Furthermore, she additionally served as the one Oklahoma delegate in assist of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 U.S. presidential run. And in 2014, she grew to become the primary African American girl nominated to statewide workplace when she received the Democratic major for an Oklahoma U.S. Senator seat, although she finally misplaced to Senator James Lankford (R-OK) within the normal election that 12 months.
Progressive Johnson seems to win over conservative Oklahomans
“I used to be the one girl and the one Black individual within the  race for governor,” Johnson stated. “Evidently, occasions have modified since then in dramatic methods. And popping out of that could be a demand for us to vary. We‘ve been modified without end by the pandemic, by what occurred to George Floyd and the protests and other people waking up everywhere in the world. This transformation requires expertise and management.”
It stays to be seen whether or not Johnson will be capable to impress sufficient assist to win the nomination in a state that has rarely elected Black politicians to statewide office. However she isn’t missing expertise in management.
Johnson was born in Holdenville however grew up in Oklahoma Metropolis and graduated from Douglass Excessive Faculty. She later earned a bachelor’s diploma in French and a masters diploma in training. Johnson additionally earned a masters from Langston College in rehabilitation counseling.
Many years of expertise
Earlier than becoming a member of the Oklahoma legislature in 2005, Johnson spent greater than 20 years working with lawmakers as a legislative analyst.
Voters re-elected her to a state senate seat in 2006 and 2010. All through that point, she spearheaded efforts to craft hashish laws as early as 2007. Johnson actively fought against the state death penalty, and pushed again in opposition to Republican efforts to craft anti-abortion laws.
In response to Republican makes an attempt to outlaw abortion fully, Johnson tried so as to add an modification to the invoice stating “any motion through which a person ejaculates or in any other case deposits semen wherever however in a lady’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an motion in opposition to an unborn little one.” Explaining that her modification was meant to attract consideration to the “absurdity” of males legislating girls’s our bodies, she drew nationwide consideration and even impressed a skit from Saturday Night Live depicting her proposed modification.
Unlocking the complete potential of hashish in Oklahoma
Talking with The Black Wall Avenue Occasions, Connie Johnson stated she had deliberate to announce her marketing campaign at a later date however stated her marketing campaign submitting was leaked to the press.
“It took issues into excessive gear. Turned out to be a really well timed leak,” she stated, explaining why she made her announcement to run for governor on the weekend of President Joe Biden’s go to to Greenwood throughout the Centennial of the Tulsa Race Bloodbath on the Jazz Corridor of Fame in Tulsa. Johnson stated she was “grateful to God that it was on his time and never our time.”
Staking her claims for why voters ought to elect her, Johnson stated her a long time of expertise shouldn’t go unnoticed. In relation to her platform, Johnson stated she views herself as a seed that God planted to assist spur the acceptance of one other seed: hashish.
“We’ve barely scratched the floor”
“We’re primarily recession-proof due to how nicely the medical hashish business is doing. I wish to guarantee it stays patient-centered care to ensure we have now achieved all the things we will to make this medication secure, accessible ,and usable by as many individuals as potential as a substitute of the opioids which are at present posing actual points in Oklahoma with addictions,” Johnson stated.
“And there’s financial advantages which have include Black, Indigenous and different folks of shade going into enterprise on this business,” she added.
Oklahoma voters permitted State Question 788 in 2018 with 57% in favor, creating the state’s medical hashish business. It’s probably the most liberal medical hashish program within the nation, regardless of Oklahoma being some of the conservative states.
There isn’t an inventory of qualifying situations. As an alternative, a physician merely indicators off on no matter cause the making use of affected person provides them. Johnson is hoping Oklahoma’s near-universal assist for this system will translate into assist for her marketing campaign and the enlargement she desires to carry the business as governor.
“We’ve barely scratched the floor,” Johnson stated, pointing to the wide range of makes use of that industrial hemp can carry the state. Hemp comes from the hashish plant however is void of any THC.
“We used to steer the nation in rope manufacturing due to how nicely Oklahoma is suited to rising [hemp],” Johnson stated. “You see why former U.S. Speaker of the Home John Boehner obtained out of the legislature and became a hemp lobbyist. We’ve barely touched the floor of what that may do for Oklahoma, and it’s wonderful.”
Bettering Oklahoma’s getting old infrastructure
Except for being an outspoken advocate for unleashing the herb’s latent and monetary potential, Johnson desires to enhance Oklahoma’s infrastructure.
“Our infrastructure, from our well being care methods to our roads to broadband and water, is in want of restore. And that’s the place new jobs can come from. We should be taking a look at rail and equal entry to broadband for rural Oklahoma,” Johnson stated. Connecting long-neglected rural and concrete communities in an equitable method stays certainly one of her most important objectives.
“I heard tales of individuals having to rise up at 3:00 a.m. to get broadband connection, and we have now a necessity to enhance our water in relation with the tribes and rural Oklahoma.”
Increasing well being care past medicaid enlargement
Maybe most importantly, Johnson believes “healthcare is a human proper.” She desires to translate that perception into apply and coverage as Chief Government Officer of the state.
“If we don’t have good well being care we will’t have good training or folks working good jobs. I’m an individual with disabilities and the way we navigate to supply take care of the in another way abled is essential. Individuals who have emotional points proper now–and I’m gonna say that’s all of us post-pandemic–We want a greater supply system that ensures people who find themselves having a disaster will not be murdered by the police in entrance of their household,” Johnson informed TheBWSTimes.
Johnson stated she believes Oklahomans’ approval of Medicaid Enlargement is a cry for extra well being care.
Public security as a public well being problem
“The makes an attempt by the legislature and governor to place it beneath managed care was disrespectful. We already know from the ‘90s that managed care merely manages care in ways in which medical doctors obtain pay however sufferers don’t obtain well being care. Kudos to the [Oklahoma] Supreme Court docket for slapping it down,” Johnson stated.
Increasing end-of-life care can also be one thing that hits near dwelling for the previous state senator. “My mother handed in 2018 and the medical hashish is what made a distinction in her transition,” Johnson stated explaining the shortage of ache her mom skilled because of the pure herb. Johnson desires hashish added to the record of permitted terminal therapy choices.
Going into particulars in regards to the want for alternative forms of public safety, Johnson stated disaster response groups signify simply “a bit of the puzzle.” She desires to increase culturally competent trainings for all first responders and hospital workers. Johnson additionally desires to create extra day therapy facilities throughout the state for people in disaster and reestablish psychological well being hospitals.
Johnson stated the COVID-19 pandemic “pulled again the sheets and uncovered the inequities and failures of the previous.”
“I’m submitting to the folks of Oklahoma that we have now a possibility to reset and create Oklahoma 2.0. To elect somebody like me who’s been there, who’s seen it , who’s helped revive it , who’s skilled and has options for the long run. But in addition to acknowledge that the folks have the ability once they select to make use of it,” Johnson added.
A well known group organizer, Johnson seems to be persevering with her grassroots strategy to canvassing with voters. One in all her first marketing campaign stops concerned a “seize and go” spaghetti dinner meet and greet that came about in Lawton, Oklahoma on June 27.
Altering the steadiness of energy in Oklahoma
No Democratic candidate has publicly come out to problem Johnson, but. If she wins the first, she’ll face steep odds in beating whichever Republican finally challengers her. In Oklahoma, all 77 counties selected Donald Trump as president in 2020.
At present, Republican incumbent Governor Kevin Stitt faces a primary challenge from Ervin Yen, a former state senator. Yen was the primary Asian American within the Oklahoma legislature. He was additionally the primary licensed doctor within the Oklahoma Senate in 40 years. Many anticipate him to sentence Gov. Stitt’s dealing with of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, perennial unbiased candidate Paul Tay and Libertarian Natalie Bruno have additionally joined the gubernatorial race. Recognizing how absentee voting helped Democrats in different conservative-leaning states, Connie Johnson is pushing for voters to vote by mail.
“It’s an consciousness that our marketing campaign desires to place out in Oklahoma with a purpose to get this achieved. We have now an obligation to assist folks perceive their energy and use that energy. And I would like them to make use of that energy to vote for change and vote for me for governor in 2022,” Johnson stated.