To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, December 8, 2021


Johnson Seeks To Replace Coburn


UPDATE: As reported by The Observer on Apr. 6, state Sen. Constance Johnson made it official today, announcing she will seek the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Tom Coburn. She kicked off her campaign with a state Capitol news conference, followed by another announcement at the Tulsa Press Club. The three-day candidate filing period opens Wednesday. Photo by Richard L. Fricker.



RichardFricker-2State Sen. Constance Johnson will announce her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn during an 11:30 a.m. news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol.

A progressive Democrat, Johnson is known for being outspoken and has introduced bills to abolish the death penalty, legalize medical marijuana, block “Personhood” legislation and remove contraception restrictions enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Indeed, she has presented a medical marijuana bill every legislative session since she was elected to office in 2005.

Prior to representing the Oklahoma City area’s predominantly African-American District 48, she was senior legislative analyst on health and human services for the state Senate 24 years.

A native of Holdenville, OK, she graduated from Oklahoma City’s Frederick A. Douglass High School, is Ivy League educated [earning a bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Pennsylvania] and holds a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling.

Johnson told The Observer her campaign will focus on women’s rights both in the workplace and their personal lives, marijuana issues, education, and the role of government in daily life.

The senator made global news in 2012 when she offered an amendment to the so-called “Personhood” bill that aimed to codify in law the fundamentalist notion that life begins at conception.

Her amendment – designed to highlight Republican hypocrisy on the issue of reproductive rights – read in part: “However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.”

Johnson told the UK Guardian that “the Personhood bill would potentially allow governmental intrusion into families’ personal lives by policing what happens to a woman’s eggs without any similar thought to what happens to a man’s sperm …

“Oklahoma already incarcerates more women than any other place in the world. Under the latest provisions, a woman in Oklahoma may now face additional criminal charges and potential incarceration for biological functions that produce or, in some cases, destroy eggs or embryos, such as a miscarriage …

“Despite the great challenges our state faces, it is far more important that we address issues such as affordable healthcare to help improve our state’s ranking of 48th in health status; to create good, secure jobs that grow our economy; and ensure that all citizens have access to quality, affordable education.”

She later withdrew the amendment.

Interestingly, the Personhood bill had been introduced by GOP Sen. Brian Crain who as a committee chair would thwart Johnson’s medical marijuana bill. Sen. Crain has announced he will seek the office of Tulsa County District Attorney which is being vacated by the retirement of career prosecutor Tim Harris.

Johnson is the only high-profile Democrat to announce for Coburn’s seat thus far.

Among those seeking the Republican nomination to succeed Coburn, who is leaving office early because of health issues, are U.S. Rep. James Lankford, former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, former state Sen. Randy Brogdon and political newcomer Jason Weger, a Norman paramedic.

The three-day filing period for state and federal elected offices is Wednesday-Friday.

Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, The Last Day of the War, is available at or at


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Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.