Senator Jim Inhofe is expected to announce his decision to retire before the end of his term, with the announcement possibly coming today. This will trigger a special election, thanks to a new law enacted in his state, Oklahoma, last year. Inhofe’s current term doesn’t end until 2026.
Inhofe is 87 years old. New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin tweeted that he heard that Inhofe is going to announce his retirement plans. Inhofe allegedly told his staff on Thursday as well as some elected officials. He plans to leave when the current Congress ends next January. A new law requires the state to hold a special election if a lawmaker announces a retirement before March 1. This is why it is likely Inhofe will make the announcement Friday or maybe Monday. March 1 is Tuesday. Oklahoma is a reliably red state so that seat is safe to remain in the Republican column.
A special election will be held to fill the rest of his term. It should be a lively race with several candidates vying for the seat. Fox News reports that Inhofe’s chief of staff, Luke Holland, is expected to run for the seat with Inhofe’s endorsement.
Possible successors to Inhofe would likely include 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern, who has made no secret of his interest in the Senate and has the financial wherewithal to overpower the many other Republican contenders interested in the job.
Second District Congressman Markwayne Mullin is also said to be looking at a potential Senate race.
Other potential candidates, either for the Senate vacancy or the 1st District, should Hern run for Senate, include state Sen. Nathan Dahm and Jackson Lahmayer, who are both campaigning against Oklahoma’s other U.S. senator, James Lankford.
Lankford is up for reelection this year.
Inhofe has 35 years in Congress, the most in Oklahoma’s history. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1986 and elected to the Senate in 1994. He is the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was previously the chairman of that committee, as well as chairman and ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe has considerable power in matters related to highways, airports, and oil and gas regulation.
All told, Inhofe has been in 51 elections, beginning with a state House special election in 1966, and lost only three times — for governor in 1974 to Democrat David Boren; for Congress in 1976 to Democratic incumbent James R. Jones; and for mayor in 1984 to Democrat Terry Young.
He replaced Jones in Congress in 1986 and Boren in the Senate in 1994 after both retired.
The special election will be held this year, with a primary on June 28, a primary run-off on August 23, and the general election on November 8. The timing will be so that the new senator takes office just as Inhofe steps down. This way there won’t be a vacancy, which is important in a 50-50 split Senate.
Liberals will be happy to see him go, as they enjoy trashing him as what they call a climate change denier. He is one of the most conservative members of Congress with friends across the aisle.
“He is really, really conservative,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN during the 2020 presidential campaign. “But you know what, he’s a decent guy and I like him, and he and I are friends.”
Apparently it is a surprise to ole Bernie that “really, really conservative” people are decent people or he wouldn’t have brought that up. Inhofe will have plenty of time for his large family. He and his wife have 20 kids and grandkids.