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Will Oklahomans elect a Black woman as District Judge?

by Erika DuBose
Published: Last Updated on
Two candidates compete for OK District 13 judge
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Two candidates are competing for a district judge position after neither met the 50% threshold in the last special election primary. Special Judge Tanya Wilson received 33,449 or 44.3% of the vote, while Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray received 30,018 or 39.7%.

Another candidate, Todd Tucker, of the Welsh & McGough law firm, received about 12,070 or 16% of the vote. The special election primary was held on June 28, 2022. 

Judge Wilson told the Tulsa World she is proud of her showing at the special election primary, where over 75,000 Tulsans voted. That number is much higher than the usual electors who turn out for a special primary election. 

Both Wilson and Gray are competing for a position in Tulsa District 14, Office 12. The position became vacant after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt appointed then-judge William Musseman to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. 

Wilson and Gray are both lifelong Tulsans who graduated from Booker T Washington and the University of Tulsa law school. However, that is where the similarities end.

Special Judge Tanya Wilson (Twitter)

Tanya Wilson seeks to become next Black female District Judge

Gray has been a district attorney for 11 years, and has prosecuted more homicides than any other district attorney in Oklahoma over the last 10 years. He notes that receiving nearly 40% of the vote in the election was a pleasant surprise. 

“Anytime you have 30,000-plus of your citizens” voting for you, he stated, “It is a high honor.” Gray confirmed that entering a runoff election in the general election in November was a goal for him. 

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray (Kevin Gray for District Judge)

Wilson, for her part, was both a prosecutor and a defense attorney before earning her current role as a special judge, a position that she believes will help her win in the general election. According to Wilson, “I am currently a judge so I know part of the responsibilities.” 

“People have already been able to see me, as a judge, handle cases; (to see) my temperament and ability to be fair and impartial,” Wilson said, as she seeks to join the ranks of the few Black judges across the United States, where the judicial branch is dominated by older White men. T

In fact, just 237 African Americans have served as judges in a federal role. Meanwhile, most of those roles have been filled by Black men. 

Less than 2% of the nearly 4000 people who have served as federal judges over the course of United States history have been Black women. Recently, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma District 13 Judge role is a nonpartisan position. The general election will be held on Tuesday November 8, 2022. 

Correction: Tanya Wilson is running for District 14 not District 12.

3 comments

Mark Sanders July 19, 2022 - 1:42 pm

Erika – Federal judges are NOT elected. This election is for STATE District Judge. Wilson would not be the first FEDERAL anything. Suggest a quick correction to avoid embarrassment.

Will Oklahomans elect a Black woman as a federal judge? | Minority News Network July 20, 2022 - 2:08 am

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Discord July 23, 2022 - 6:27 pm

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