Oklahoma Democrats are set to elect a new state party leader next week after an election year in which they lost more ground in the state Legislature and slid further into the red financially, reports the Oklahoman.

Three African American women, all with years of experience in state politics, have been actively campaigning for Oklahoma Democratic Party chair. They are promising to register and mobilize more voters, reach out to rural areas, raise more money and sharpen the party’s message. Alicia Andrews, Christine Byrd and Sheri Dickerson are vying for the post. Anna Langthorn, who was elected chair of the party in 2017, declined to seek another term.

Party rules allow for more candidates to enter the contest later, even during next weekend’s convention. However, should an African American win, it would be a first for the state party. “It sometimes still feels quite daunting that in 2019, we’re still celebrating those types of firsts,” said Dickerson, a community organizer in Oklahoma City and president of Oklahoma’s chapter of Black Lives Matter. Dickerson currently serves on the state party’s central committee.

“I don’t remember a time not being involved in the political arena,” she said. “It was a responsibility my parents and my extended family impressed upon me was very important and something we do still as a family.” Andrews, a Tulsa realtor, said she had volunteered a few times and has been involved with the party continuously for the past three years. “I felt like it was imperative that I not only get involved but stay involved and get into a leadership position,” she said.

After the 2016 presidential election, she started wondering what Oklahoma Democrats were doing to respond. “If you want something, you need to get up and do it yourself. I started showing up at the Democratic office, insisted that they put me to work and they talked me into running for secretary of the Tulsa County party. “As the secretary, I saw some opportunities in the party. I saw some challenges that we had that I felt suited to correct.” Byrd, the outreach director for the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said she has been involved with the party for the last 12 years.

“My experience is invaluable because I have been through six (state party) chairs and the different conventions. And I’ve been through its glory days and its drought season. I have been through its racial uproars and through its victories with (former President Barack) Obama. So I’ve seen it all.”