‘Abolitionist’ candidates largely unsuccessful in legislative races
Most legislative candidates who sought to criminalize abortion were unsuccessful last week in their election bids.
But in southeast Oklahoma, a barn burner of an election is shaping up between Sen. Larry Boggs, R-Wilburton, and abolitionist Warren Hamiliton, who will face off in an Aug. 25 runoff primary election.
Hamilton, a McCurtain rancher, was one of the only outspoken abolitionist candidates who was semi-successful in Tuesday’s election.
Many of the “abolitionist” candidates challenged Republican incumbents who already oppose abortion. However, “abolitionists” support Senate Bill 13, which seeks to abolish abortion in Oklahoma. The controversial bill has never received a hearing in Oklahoma’s Legislature, but the measure has pitted Senate leadership against its supporters for years.
“I think the voters understand that just because you say you’re going to abolish abortion doesn’t mean that you can wave a magic wand and make it happen,” said Sen. Greg McCortney.
The Ada Republican, who opposes abortion, successfully fended off a primary challenge from “abolitionist” Carisa Roberson, who got about 25% of the vote. In a social media post, Roberson applauded that abolitionists got about 19,000 votes combined.
Russell Hunter, a lobbyist for Free the States, said it’s difficult for first-time candidates to break through, considering all the political advantages incumbents have, including name identification and more campaign cash.
- Related to this story
- Article: Hiett bests challenger in Corporation Commission primary
- Article: With Medicaid expansion approved, what happens next?
- Article: A resource for Oklahoma voters heading to the polls on Nov 3. This includes details on how and where to vote, absentee ballots, deadlines, and the candidates and issues that will be decided.
- Article: Voter guide: Republican Hiett and Libertarian Hagopian face off in Oklahoma Corporation Commission election
- Article: Oklahoma election results 2020: Trump, Inhofe win in state
- Article: Follow Election Day 2020 live
- Article: Battleground states: The key states likely to decide the presidency
- Article: Trump vs Biden: Leaving after the election? Here's what expats say
- Article: No power, no problem: How one Oklahoma City polling site continued to count votes after losing electricty on election day
- Article: ‘I know my voice matters’: First-time voters cast ballots in Oklahoma
- Article: Oklahoma election 2020: Races to watch in the U.S.
- Article: U.S. Senate election results: Jim Inhofe defeats Abby Broyles in Oklahoma
- Article: Todd Hiett beats Todd Hagopian in corporation commission race
- Article: Oklahoma's Legislature: GOP makes gains in state House
- Article: Oklahoma judges retention election: Voters retain all state Supreme Court justices, appellate judges
- Article: State Question 814 results: Oklahoma voters reject TSET changes
- Article: U.S. congressional election results: Cole, Lucas retain seats
- Article: State Question 805 results: Oklahoma votes against changing sentence enhancements
- Article: Oklahoma County Sheriff election results: Tommie Johnson III defeats Wayland Cubit
- Article: Pa. race can't be called on Election Day: Why it's taking so long
- Article: Oklahoma District 5 election results: Stephanie Bice beats Kendra Horn for House seat
- Article: Oklahoma presidential election results: President Donald Trump sweeps all 77 counties
- Article: Oklahoma elects first Muslim, nonbinary state legislator
- Article: Oklahoma voters set record as Trump logged another GOP sweep
- Article: First-time Oklahoma poll worker describes long day helping with Tuesday's historic election
- Article: Oklahoma House members sworn in, solidifying historic GOP majority
- Article: Trump's Oklahoma County squeaker, Horn's Grady County connection and 3 other things about the election
- Article: Florida is spending billions to improve power reliability, could Oklahoma follow suit?
Free the States, which supports SB 13, aided some “abolitionist” candidates by distributing campaign literature, but did not coordinate directly with any campaigns.
While most didn’t win their elections, they do help convert some people to the cause, Hunter said. In an educational sense, the campaigns also taught more Oklahomans the difference between those opposed to abortion and "abolitionists," he said.
“This is definitely the first time in history, in any state, where you have multiple abolitionist candidates running in primaries with the stated goal to challenge pro-lifers,” he said. “That in and of itself, people choosing to do that, that’s a victory.”
The race between Boggs and Hamilton is poised again to pit Senate leadership against supporters of SB 13.
“The sense among different abolitionist groups is ‘hey, now the field is narrowed, now we know where to put all our time and energy,’” Hunter said. “The crazy thing is, the establishment is going to do the same thing.”
Those on both sides of the Senate District 7 race say the other side is putting out misinformation. Neither Boggs nor Hamiliton returned calls seeking comment.
Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said Tuesday’s election results were telling.
“There’s widespread support for the pro-life movement,” he said. “There’s not widespread support for a fringe movement, and that’s exactly what Senate Bill 13 is, and has been, and probably always will be.”
Treat and other Senate Republicans have campaigned for Boggs in Senate District 7.
The Senate Majority Fund reported spending just over $20,000 on mailers, text messages and auto-dial phone calls in support of Boggs ahead of Tuesday's primary election.
Meanwhile, dark money group Advance Oklahoma Fund spent nearly $10,000 in support of Boggs or in opposition to Hamilton. Dark money groups don't have to disclose their donors, meaning money from unknown sources is seeking to influence the outcome of an election.
Treat plans to remain involved in the race through the runoff election.
“I’m involved with all Senate Republicans running for re-election, so I will be heavily involved with Sen. Boggs," he said. "It’s extremely important to me that he gets re-elected."
Republican incumbents facing runoff primaries
• Sen. Larry Boggs, R-Wilburton, will face Warren Hamilton in Senate District 7
• Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, will face former state Rep. Shane Jett in Senate District 17
• Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, will face Jessica Garvin in Senate District 43
Legislative incumbents who lost their reelection bids
• Sen. Wayne Shaw in Senate District 3
• Rep. Lundy Kiger in House District 3
• Rep. Darrel Fincher in House District 11
• Rep. Jason Dunnington in House District 88
Runoff elections will occur on Aug. 25.