Inhofe’s Retirement Triggers Frantic Shuffle in Oklahoma

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0

Senator James Inhofe’s (R-OK) Friday announcement that he would retire early next year set off a flurry of activity in Oklahoma. Candidates are clambering to join the special election for an open Senate seat in a state which rarely sees one.

According to The Hill:

Two candidates have already jumped into the race since the announcement, and others are expected to leap at the opportunity, with early jockeying pointing to a flood of endorsements to come.

“You’re gonna start to see a lot of political movement now,” said Chad Alexander, a former chairman of the Oklahoma GOP.

Inhofe, who holds a prominent role as ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Friday announced he would relinquish in early 2023 the seat he first won in 1994. The 87-year-old is grappling with a case of COVID-19, and his wife has also had health issues.

Under state law, the special election to replace him will take place in November, at the same time as the rest of the midterm races, because he announced his retirement before March 1. The primaries will be held over the summer.

“It is now time for that next generation of Oklahomans to have the opportunity to serve the state in the U.S. Senate,” he said in a statement.

In the same statement, Inhofe also announced he was endorsing Luke Holland, his former chief of staff, to replace him, calling Holland a “fierce conservative and the best person to continue my legacy of a strong national defense and investment in local infrastructure.”

The endorsement is not expected to clear the field by a long shot.

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