Constance N. Johnson
|Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 48th district
January 2005 – January 2015
|Preceded by||Angela Monson|
|Succeeded by||Anastasia Pittman|
|Born||1952 (age 63–64)
Holdenville, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania
Constance N. "Connie" Johnson is an American politician from the U.S. state of Oklahoma. She served in the Oklahoma Senate, representing District 48, which encompasses portions of northeastern Oklahoma County until 2014. She was first elected to the state senate in a special election in September 2005.
Johnson became the first black woman nominated for a major statewide office in Oklahoma and the first woman US Senate nominee from Oklahoma of any party when she won the Democratic primary run-off of the United States Senate special election in Oklahoma, 2014.
Born in Holdenville, Oklahoma, in 1952, she graduated from Frederick A. Douglass High School in Oklahoma City and earned a bachelor's degree in French from the University of Pennsylvania. After college she worked for the Oklahoma Community Action Director’s Association, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) within the City of Oklahoma City, and as the personnel assistant within the General Administrator's office of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. She earned a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Langston University.
Johnson worked for the Oklahoma State Senate as a legislative analyst from 1981 to 2005 when she won the Senate seat representing District 48 in a special election. She was re-elected in 2006 and 2010.
- Full Appropriations
- Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services
- Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation
- Health and Human Services
- Veterans and Military Affairs
- General Government
Stance on Senate Bill 1433
Senate Bill 1433, which sought to define human life as beginning at fertilization, would have offered full legal protection to all human embryos. In the words of the bill, “the unborn child at every stage of development (has) all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.” Johnson submitted an amendment of her own to the bill, which would have added the words:
- 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.
She explained that the amendment was intended to "draw attention to the absurdity, duplicity and lack of balance inherent in the policies of this state in regard to women".
Campaign for U.S. Senate
On April 8, 2014, Johnson announced she was running in United States Senate special election in Oklahoma, 2014. Johnson faced Patrick Hayes and perennial candidate Jim Rogers. Johnson finished first in the Democratic primary with a plurality, and faced Rogers in a runoff election. Rogers had an advantage with name recognition heading into the runoff election, having appeared numerous times on the ballot in Oklahoma. Johnson, having spent 8 years in the Oklahoma State Senate as an outspoken critic of the Republican legislature, was able to acquire experienced campaign staff to secure a runoff election victory. Controversy would later surround a successful lawsuit by Johnson staff member Rico Smith who claimed Johnson did not properly pay him. Johnson dismissed Smith and other staffers due to not wanting to pay them for the work that they performed. Campaign Manager Bailey Perkins, succeeded by Colletta Harper, along with Communications Director James Cooper, an Oklahoma City journalist and professor, and Political Director David Roberts, a veteran political operative and former 2008 Obama for America staff member rounded out the organizational structure. Rogers' name recognition did little to combat Johnson's growing notoriety and campaign organization. Johnson won the runoff election, defeating Rogers by 14 percentage points, to face Rep. James Lankford in the general election campaign. Johnson lost the election for the unexpired term of Tom Coburn to James Lankford, by a margin of 237,923 29.0% to Lankford's 557,002, 67.9%, with independent candidate Mark Beard collecting 25,965 votes, 3.2% of the total.
Comprehensive marijuana reform
Johnson introduced legislation legalizing medical marijuana in 2007, and each subsequent session, in conjunction with efforts to change Oklahoma's harsh sentencing guidelines. In June 2014, Senator Johnson and attorney David Slane announced the filing of an initiative petition for a proposed amendment to the Constitution of Oklahoma which would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of recreational marijuana and three ounces of medical marijuana. According to Johnson, "We’re putting forth Genesis 1:29 as the basis of this campaign. God created this wonderful, miraculous plant and we know that it has been vilified for the last 100 years, and it’s time to change that in Oklahoma."
- Hardzinski, Brian (August 25, 2014). "Three Races To Watch In Tuesday's Primary Runoff Elections". KGOU. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- "Connie Johnson Wins Dem Primary For Oklahoma Senate". CBS Local. August 25, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- Constance Johnson, Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Oral History Project. (accessed July 8, 2013)
- Rolland, Megan. "Oklahoma Senate passes Personhood Act, saying life begins at conception". newsok.com. NewsOK. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- Johnson, Constance. "About my 'spilled semen' amendment to Oklahoma's Personhood bill," The Guardian, February 9, 2012. (accessed July 8, 2013)
- "Oklahoma Elections". OKLAHOMAN. June 24, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
- "Lankford Wins GOP Nod In U.S. Senate, Faces Dems Johnson Or Rogers, Independent Beard". KGOU. AP. June 24, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
- "Reclusive, perennial Oklahoma candidate faces longtime state senator in U.S. Senate primary". OKLAHOMAN. July 3, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "Former campaign worker sues Connie Johnson over alleged breach of contract". KOCO. October 6, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "Connie Johnson Wins Dem Primary For Oklahoma Senate". CBSDC. August 26, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- , Oklahoma State Elections Board, November 4, 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
- "Oklahoma Senator cites Genesis 1:29 as basis for legalizing marijuana". UPI. June 16, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- "Oklahoma group using Bible scripture in push to legalize pot". KFOR-TV. June 13, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Oklahoma