OKLAHOMA CITY — Republican voters made Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of education their nominee for state superintendent on Tuesday.
Just after 8:30 p.m., Ryan Walters claimed victory over Shawnee Superintendent April Grace.
Stitt congratulated Walters and introduced him at a Tuesday night watch party in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown.
“People spoke all over the state that they want parents to have more choice in their education system,” Stitt said. “We want to be Top 10 in everything that we do, and I’m telling you, for the next four years with this guy as the next state superintendent of education, we are going to go to the top.”
With all precincts reporting, Walters won 53.4% of 279,202 votes reported by the Oklahoma State Election Board.
Walters promised to work hand-in-hand with Stitt to deliver school choice to Oklahomans.
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“Now, what we’re gonna see is a governor and a state superintendent dedicated to every child living up to their God-given potential,” Walters said to his cheering supporters. “How I grew up was that the family are the people who know best for kids and they have to be as included in the educational system as best as possible — and the way you do that is through school choice.
“What we’ve seen tonight is a mandate from Oklahoma voters. Gov. Stitt’s education vision and school choice is gonna happen in the state of Oklahoma.”
Walters will face former Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Jena Nelson, a Democrat, in the Nov. 8 general election.
Current State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is term-limited and changed her party registration to launch a bid to unseat Gov. Stitt in November.
Walters and Grace had finished first and second atop a four-candidate field in the June 28 GOP primary, with 41.46% and 30.63% respectively of the votes cast.
Walters, 36, has served as Gov. Kevin Stitt’s appointed secretary of education since 2020 and works as chief executive officer at Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, an education policy advocacy organization. He was a finalist in the 2016 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year contest while teaching at McAlester High School and has also taught classes for Millwood High School.
Walters won out Tuesday over Grace, who has 33 years’ education experience, in all, at four different school districts, including Shawnee.
Grace issued a statement to the Tulsa World late Tuesday, saying: “We are proud of the race we ran. We ran a clean campaign.
“I am not done making a difference and not done fighting for Oklahoma education. I am incredibly blessed with some amazing friends and supporters.”
Nelson also issued a statement after press time Tuesday: “On November 8, Oklahomans will face a stark but simple choice: do they believe education should be available to all our kids or do they believe it should be a privilege afforded only to the elite?”
Editor’s note: Statements from April Grace and Jena Nelson were received after press time Tuesday and were added to this story after publication in Wednesday’s Tulsa World.