Pruitt, who also previously served as the attorney general of Oklahoma and as an Oklahoma state senator, is seeking to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican who is planning to retire effective Jan. 3, 2023. The 87-year-old senator was elected to another term during the 2020 cycle, so he will be stepping down several years before his term is slated to conclude. The winner of the 2022 special election will fill Inhofe’s slot.
Inhofe, who entered office in late 1994, has served in the U.S. Senate for more than a quarter century. He had previously served in the House chamber before serving in the Senate.
Pruitt will compete against various other candidates during the Republican primary — U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who has served in the House since 2013, is one of the other candidates in the GOP primary field.
Reports indicate that Pruitt resigned from his EPA role in 2018 amid ethics scandals.
The Associated Press reported that Pruitt said that he “led with conviction in Washington, D.C.,” and that he described the EPA as the “Holy Grail of the American left.”
“I think Oklahomans know when the New York Times and CNN and MSNBC and those places are against you, Oklahomans are for you,” Pruitt said, according to the outlet.
The state is also holding an election for its other U.S. Senate seat, which is currently occupied by Republican Sen. James Lankford — the incumbent lawmaker is seeking another term in office.
The Senate Democratic caucus has a precarious grip on power: There are 50 Republican senators, 48 Democrats, and two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats. Democrats have the majority as the consequence of the tie-breaking role of Vice President Kamala Harris.
If Americans continue to get slammed by soaring inflation and sky high gas prices in the months ahead, the Democrats could struggle during the midterm elections.