2018 Elections

Oklahoma House of Representatives / Provided

Tuesday is Oklahoma’s primary runoff election and in House District 20, an educator is campaigning to oust Republican incumbent Bobby Cleveland, who’s held the seat for six years.

It’s a theme that’s playing out in races across the state, and the outcome of the runoff south of Norman could test whether Oklahoma educators are part of an election moment — or a true political movement.

School support

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Kelly Vierling said her son had a “huge heart.”

Vierling’s eyes watered as she described her 21-year-old son Alex in her office on the Oklahoma State University campus. 

Alex was killed in Stillwater in 2014.

Vierling said her son carried a gun to protect himself. He had it with him when he went to a friend’s party the day he died.

The Trump era has already produced many moments of unprecedented strangeness, but perhaps none to match his triumphal visit to West Virginia just hours after two of his key associates were found guilty or pleaded guilty on a total 16 federal counts in two separate proceedings in two courts.

As President Trump enthralled a rally crowd for more than an hour on Fox News Tuesday night, a click to another channel revealed endless tape loops of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen leaving courthouses.

Todd Russ Facebook page / Jacob McCleland, Oklahoma Engaged

Emily Tuck walks through the backroom aisles at Carrol’s Shoe Corner in Elk City. She works here and at a record store next door in this city’s bustling downtown district of coffee shops, clothing boutiques and gift stores.

“Downtown kind of looked like a ghost downtown with the oil-field bust, and so just in the past few years it's really started thriving,” Tuck said.

Tuck likes working in Elk City. But there are a couple of things she would like to change. For instance, she would like more art in the downtown area.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, it is back to school season. Millions of teachers across this country are getting their lesson plans together. They're decorating their bulletin boards. Others, though, are busy elsewhere, like on the campaign trail.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in this year's midterm elections. Her future may depend on how closely she can align herself with President Trump without angering members of her own party.

Heitkamp must walk that fine line because she's campaigning in a state that went for Trump by more than 35 points in 2016. That pressure was on display this week after she became one of the first Democrats to meet privately with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Tuesday's elections in four states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut and Vermont — produced some noteworthy results.

Here are four takeaways:

1. It was a big night for Democratic diversity

Christine Hallquist, a former energy company executive, became the first openly transgender person to win a major party's nomination for governor. And the Democrat's candidacy may not be one just for the trivia books — she has a chance at winning this fall.

Rep. Keith Ellison easily won the Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general, the Associated Press projected, just hours after the Democratic National Committee said it is reviewing allegations of domestic abuse against Minnesota congressman, who also serves as the party's deputy chair.

In its first statement on the allegations against Ellison, the DNC tells NPR:

"These allegations recently came to light and we are reviewing them. All allegations of domestic abuse are disturbing and should be taken seriously."

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Sue Campbell and her husband David stand under a tree at a dog park along a busy highway near Lake Hefner. Their dog is here, too — a 3-year-old ball of furry energy named Louie.

“Louie is a miniature schnauzer and Staffordshire terrier mix,” Sue said.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

About 100 teachers and school administrators filed for political office in the 2018 election. Most are not shy about supporting the first tax increase in nearly three decades, even though it’s a progressive political message in a deeply conservative state.

Pro-tax campaigns from educators seem to be resonating with voters in many parts of Oklahoma — but not everywhere.

Polarizing tax package

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