Tuesday’s primary election will force some turnover in the legislature and some education advocacy groups believe the next legislature will be more friendly to their cause.
Several candidates said they believe education was the main topic of the election because just about everyone was asking them about school funding.
There is no definitive research on the political impact of the teacher walkout, but political observers believe it was substantial.
Democrats especially believe they are seeing a tidal wave of change.
“For me, what last night represented was a complete rejection of what’s been happening at the Capitol and Governor Mary Fallin’s leadership,” said Representative Eric Proctor.
In the Republican primary for House District 80, school teacher Cody Coonce finished third, but split the vote enough to force a runoff between incumbent Mike Ritze and political newcomer Stan May.
“Teachers are wanting a change, education overall is wanting a change, and this is one way they’re going to get it,” May said. “We’ll see what happens on this next round.”
In South Tulsa’s House District 67, incumbent Scott McEachin was labeled as anti-education and newcomer Jeff Boatman won, unseating a long-time incumbent.
“Education was the number one question I got,” said Boatman.
Boatman is not a teacher, but made clear his support for more spending on schools.
“I think voters showed us that they are ready for some change in education and the message I was trying to get out was that it’s time to invest in education in Oklahoma,” he said.
The leaders of the teacher walkout claim some credit for helping teachers run successful primary campaigns and helping to unseat candidates they didn’t see as friendly to education, or at least force them into a runoff.
The Oklahoma Education Association counts 71 out of 115 education candidates still in the running after the primary.