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Oklahoma voters punish Republican incumbents who voted against teacher raises

Nine Republican incumbents who voted against Oklahoma teachers' pay raises earlier this year were either defeated in Tuesday's primary or face runoffs. (J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

Oklahoma teachers went on strike earlier this year for higher pay and more state funding for schools. During that strike, many teachers and their supporters vowed to vote out legislators who opposed them — and that might just happen, The Hill reported.

During Oklahoma's primary elections Tuesday, two Republican incumbents were defeated and seven more were forced into runoff elections to fight for the nomination. Those nine legislators all voted against tax increases for teacher raises in March.

Public education will continue to be a crucial issue in Oklahoma elections, after the strike motivated nearly 100 teachers and administrators to run for office this year, according to Vox.

What happened with the strike?

In March, Oklahoma teacher unions announced its intention to walk out of class in early April to protest for higher wages and more funding for supplies and other school improvements.

Before the strike began, the Oklahoma Legislature approved the largest state tax hike in more than 20 years to raise more than $445 million in revenue to give the teachers a raise.

The teachers walked out anyway, many of them protesting at the Capitol during the nine-day strike. However, the Legislature did not concede further, and the strike ended without any new legislation.

What will this mean for the elections?

Ten Republican lawmakers voted against the tax raise in March, drawing the ire of teachers for opposing their raise. State Reps. Chuck Strohm and Scott McEachin were defeated in their primaries, and seven others face an Aug. 28 runoff to try to hold their seat.

Of those that didn't vote against the teacher raises, four Republican incumbents lost Tuesday —  one of them to a teacher, signaling that the Legislature's refusal to pass further school funding legislation may have fueled voter disapproval.

What else?

Oklahoma also became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana, with 56.8 percent of voters saying "yes" to Question 788.

The race for governor became clearer Tuesday night, with former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett winning the Republican primary over entrepreneur Kevin Stitt and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb.

Former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson won the Democratic nomination.


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