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Johnson announces Democratic bid for U.S. Senate

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Johnson, a state senator since 2005, wanted her mother by her side when she officially announced her bid for the U.S. Senate.

“The person who made this all possible is who we are waiting for,” said Johnson as her mother, Wanda, 83, arrived.

While crediting her family, faith and friends, Johnson announced she is seeking the Democratic nomination in this year’s special election for Senate.

Following Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Muskogee) announcement that he would retire at the end of this year, a number of candidates have emerged across the state, including two prominent Republican lawmakers — Rep. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma City) and Rep. T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) — who announced their plan to take Coburn’s seat.

Johnson is the first Democrat to announce a bid for the seat, and she said she believes it’s possible for a progressive to win the race.

“Voters are looking for something different, and I am that difference,” Johnson said. “People don’t necessarily want conservatism; they want people to care for them. It’s about bringing these conversations to the campaign.”

Gender equality, incarceration rates, health care and education were issues Johnson addressed in her press conference.

“It’s time for a change,” Johnson said. “I am running for this office in order to promote the conversations that will bring about that change.”

Following Johnson’s announcement, Wanda said her daughter had always shown courage and she supported her decision to run.

“I tried to raise my children in such a manner that they would be able to think for themselves,” Wanda said. “I’m quite proud of her for being so courageous.”

Johnson’s decision to run for Senate will leave a vacancy in House District 48, which is home to the State Capitol and northeast Oklahoma City. Filing for state office is this week, but Pat Ownbey is the only person to file a campaign finance report with the state for District 48. Ownbey is running as a Republican.

Johnson said she was hopeful her campaign would resonate with citizens who have been turned off from voting in the past.

“I am also speaking for the thousands who have for many years felt abandoned by our system of government,” Johnson said. “I am speaking for those who are disenfranchised by those who use their office for self-promotion then turn a deaf ear to their concerns.”

Coburn’s Senate seat is one of two Senate seats open in 2014. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Tulsa) is running for reelection and has drawn a Democratic challenger in Matt Silverstein. Primary elections will be held June 24, and the general election is on Nov. 4.

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