Just months into his tenure as State Superintendent, Ryan Walters seems to already be preparing to run for governor.
According to multiple sources, Walters is taking steps to lay potential groundwork for a future gubernatorial campaign.
“I have heard from multiple folks that he is planning to run and has taken some action steps to indicate that,” one source with knowledge of the situation told The BWSTimes.
Those same sources also confirm that Representative Sherrie Conley, who faced publish pushback for her controversial statement regarding the Tulsa Race Massacre, is seemingly eyeing a bid for State Superintendent.
The Black Wall Street Times reached out to Walters’ office for comment, but did not receive a response before publication.
The revelations come as Walters and others are mounting a targeted, politicized attack on Tulsa Public Schools.
Walters threatening dismantling or takeover of state’s second largest district amid rumors of future political ambitions
Walters was elected state superintendent in November 2022 after capitalizing on anti-LGBTQ sentiment and distrust of school district leaders.
His short tenure in office is so far largely defined by a string of controversies and ire from both Democrats and Republicans.
Recently, Walters – like Conley – received international condemnation for denying race played a main role in the Tulsa Race Massacre.
In the weeks since, Walters has ramped up attacks on TPS in an apparent effort to take over the district.
Just over a week ago, the State Superintendent held a press conference about “protecting religious liberty” the school district’s offices. The press conference was in response to Board Member E’Lena Ashley receiving a reprimand after praying at a graduation ceremony.
Ashley, who joined the TPS board last year, used her platform at a recent graduation to offer a Christian prayer. The school board president issued a reminder to Ashley that coercive religious practices are not permitted in public schools. Despite decades of legal precedent confirming the same, Ashley claimed the reprimand was a violation of her rights to free speech.
Speaking at the press conference alongside Ashley, Walters claimed the incident would cause him to reconsider the district’s future accreditation.
Ever since, Walters has indicated he may attempt either a district dismantling or takeover at the August 24th state Board of Education meeting. Leaders across the political spectrum fear this political move would have a “devastating” effect on Tulsa’s students, families and overall economy.
Harmful actions against Tulsa could be viewed as pathway to higher political power
Walters views dissolving or taking over TPS as an opportunity to grow his political influence, sources tell The BWSTimes.
Since running for office, many who have known Walters have noted his demeanor and values have changed significantly. Walters has latched on to divisive rhetoric around social issues, including race and the LGBTQ+ community.
The State Superintendent has spent enormous amounts of energy stoking culture wars, while neglecting his duties, critics allege.
Republicans in Oklahoma’s House and Senate have voiced frustration with his unhinged antics. Some have even advanced efforts to limit Walters’ power as the head of the Oklahoma Department of Education.
Now, as August looms, the fates of over 5,000 teachers and staff as well as 34,000 students across Tulsa remain at Ryan Walters’ mercy.
And mounting evidence suggests Walters motivations may not be about facts, logic or student success, but about gaining political power.