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Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe announces retirement

Sen. Jim Inhofe
Andrew Harnik
Sen. Jim Inhofe

Updated: Fri, Feb. 25 at 3:12 p.m.

Longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe announced Friday he would be stepping down at the end of the year.

Appearing remotely because he’s dealing with COVID-19, Inhofe told the gathering at the Oklahoma History Center he wants to spend more time with his family.

"I will be leaving the United States Senate on the 3rd of January. I want to make sure everyone understands this. Nothing is going to change as far as I’m concerned, until almost a year from now," Inhofe said.

The announcement means Inhofe’s replacement will be decided in November, along with the state’s other U.S. Senate seat, governor, and all of the U.S. House delegation.

Inhofe endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Holland, to replace him, but maneuvering among prominent Republicans and even Democrats is already underway.

Inhofe has served in Congress for 35 years, has served as Tulsa’s mayor, and was first elected to public office in 1967.


Early Thursday afternoon, the rumors started circulating: Jim Inhofe would soon be announcing his retirement as U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, a seat he was first elected to in 1994.

News outlets from The New York Times to KOCO are reporting the 87-year-old Inhofe will leave the Senate at the end of 2022, with four years left in his term.

Official word of Inhofe’s retirement could come within hours, and will significantly shake-up Oklahoma politics. There would be a primary contest in the summer. And with Oklahoma’s other senator, James Lankford, at the end of his first term, and Gov. Kevin Stitt up for re-election this fall, voters in November would be deciding both U.S. Senate seats, as well as governor.

Inhofe was first elected to public office in 1967 and currently serves as the powerful ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma.
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