Paula Sophia, an out transgender woman who sought the District 88 seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, told BuzzFeed Wednesday she has conceded the race to her opponent — after falling short by just 22 votes.
“At this point, I’m obviously disappointed,” she said told BuzzFeed during a phone interview. “I feel a lot of resolve that whatever credibility concerns people had about me when I entered the race have alleviated and that I will continue to be active in community affairs and engaged in issues and make sure to the best of my ability that the progressive voice in Oklahoma is heard.”
Results in Tuesday’s runoff election put Sophia, a retired Oklahoma police officer, 22 votes behind her opponent, Jason Dunnington, a professor and businessman. Specifically, Sophia won 968 votes and Dunnington won 990 votes. With no Republican opposition in the race, Dunnington takes the seat.
Sophia, who retired from the police force this year and is also a U.S. Army veteran, would have been perhaps the first out transgender state legislator to take office if she had won the election, according to her campaign.
Earlier Wednesday, Sophia considered calling for a recount if there were enough provisional ballots cast in the district to mathematically make it possible for her to close the margin, but her campaign team determined that only four such ballots were cast and there was even smaller a chance a recount would find her victorious.
“Even if all four ballots went my way, it would not stand the gap,” Sophia said. “There were no irregularities reported in the precincts. I do not want to waste taxpayer time and money on a recount, when the voters of House District 88 have spoken.”
Sophia received financial support from the national Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. But locally, Sophia was “counted out” by Democratic leaders in the Oklahoma house, according to Troy Stevenson, executive director of The Equality Network (TEN).
Late Tuesday, Dunnington took to Facebook to thank supporters, saying in a post to his campaign’s timeline, “I want to thank every single voter for their support through this race. Your vote means the world to me, and I look forward to being the voice of House District 88 at the Capitol.”
Sophia said it is now Dunnington’s task to represent all of the voices of the district.