Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe Announces Early Retirement
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., speaks during the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations GOP news conference in the Russell Senate Office Building on the situation in Ukraine on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe announced his retirement on Friday, noting he will leave at the end of the year, setting off the need for a special election among a likely crowded field of GOP contenders.

Inhofe made the announcement official in a statement posted on social media Friday.

“It is bittersweet, but with a clear heart, that Kay and I announce that at the end of the year, I will retire from the United States Senate,” Inhofe said in the statement.

“Going into public service was never in my plan. For years, Kay and I were focused on our family and building our business together. Then, one day, I need a dock permit. I had to visit 27 government offices to get a single dock permit, and realized if we wanted the government to work for the people, not against the people it was up to us to make a change,” he added.

Inhofe emphasized in his statement that the retirement announcement was not the “end of the road.”

“Today’s announcement is not the end of the road. I have work yet to do for Oklahomans over these next nine months, including passing the National Defense Authorization Act and holding the Biden administration accountable,” Inhofe said.

The senator concluded his retirement statement with gratitude for those who have supported him during his time in the Senate. Inhofe, 87, has served in his role since 1994.

“Thank you to everyone who has trusted me with your vote over these many years. It has been an honor to serve you in the Senate,” Inhofe wrote.

Inhofe was last reelected in 2020, with his term to end in 2026. The new retirement announcement will set off a series of steps toward a special election for his seat in the strongly red state.

“Inhofe’s retirement is likely to set off a hard-fought scramble for the GOP nomination, with Gov. Kevin Stitt a potential front-running candidate,” The Washington Post reported.

“Besides Holland, other possible candidates include Reps. Markwayne Mullin and Kevin Hern, former state House speaker T.W. Shannon and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell,” it added.

Inhofe’s retirement will also open up a seat for the leadership of the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee. Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker is the next highest member of the committee, though it is uncertain who will take Inhofe’s spot. Part of the decision will also be determined by whether Republicans are able to take back the Senate majority following November’s elections.

The Oklahoma senator has most recently been noted in headlines regarding his thoughts on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“For months, we’ve seen this coming – but Putin’s massive, shameful breach of international protocol is shocking and devastating nonetheless,” Inhofe released in a statement on Thursday.

“While I am continuing to monitor the situation as events unfold, I believe it is in our country’s best interest to respond strongly – by providing additional defensive aid to continue to help our Ukrainian friends defend themselves and by sending additional resources to our troops in Eastern Europe who are working alongside our NATO allies to deter this aggression from spreading further; and by imposing the most severe economic costs on Putin and his inner circle for this grave misstep. To be clear: Putin’s ambitions won’t stop with Ukraine – unless America and our allies stop Putin,” he added.

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