Inhofe endorses chief of staff to succeed him


A campaign photo from Luke Holland’s website, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022(Luke Holland for Oklahoma Campaign)

Mikaela DeLeon

WASHINGTON – Oklahoma senior Senator Jim Inhofe announced his bombshell resignation on Friday, sparking the start of a heated special election to fill his seat.

But Inhofe wasted little time on Friday saying where his support lies.

“I am endorsing Luke Holland, and I believe that he is without question the best qualified to carry this out and anticipate that he will,” Inhofe said at his press conference, “He’s actually run this show for a long period of time, several years.”  

Holland was center stage at the news conference on Friday where Inhofe made his announcement. But others are expected to follow. It’s anticipated that Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK 2nd District) and Representative Kevin Hern (R-OK 1st District) will show interest in the potential race.   

Jim Mountain Inhofe (R-OK), who didn’t make it to the news conference due to a “mild case” of COVID is the state’s longest-serving U.S. senator. Inhofe entered office in 1994 and is currently 87. Prior to that he served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Inhofe was also elected mayor of Tulsa in 1978. The Senior senator’s resignation comes two years into his term that expires 2026. 

Holland was the first candidate to bid for the senator’s seat openly, but others are expected to follow. It’s anticipated that Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK 2nd District) and Representative Kevin Hern (R-OK 1st District) will show interest in the potential race. 

Sources close to Hern say he’s taking the weekend to pray and consult with his family. Either representative entering the race would leave district seats open for election. 

Other Oklahoma Republicans possibly looking at the vacancy could include former state House speaker T.W. Shannon, Oklahoma attorney general candidate Gentner Drummond and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell. 

Not much is known yet about possible Democrat candidates. However, former U.S. Representative Kendra Horn returned to Twitter yesterday for the first time since November to tweet an “eyes” emoji after reports of Inhofe’s retirement broke. The eyes emoji is commonly used to draw attention or let the Twitter audience know that the tweet’s author is watching or monitoring a situation. Twitter users speculated whether or not this meant Horn was eyeing the senator’s resignation with the intention to run. 

Horn has remained involved in Oklahoma politics after her loss to Representative Stephanie Bice (R-OK 5th District) in 2020. The former representative created the Oklahoma Standard PAC to help elect more Democrats in Oklahoma and “Support Federal candidates on the front lines.” 

Other major Oklahoma political players like Bice and Trent Shores, (R) former U.S. attorney, have not announced whether they intend to campaign or not. 

Those who have decided not to run for the seat include Gov. Kevin Stitt, Representative Frank D. Lucas (R-OK 3rd District), Jackson Lahmeyer and state Sen. Nathan Dahm. 

Stitt released a statement clarifying that he would not be running. 

“I am fully committed to serving the State of Oklahoma as Governor and seeking the support of Oklahomans for another four years in this role,” Stitt said today.

Lucas said he was “flattered by the many calls” asking about his candidacy but believed it was more important to be the “most senior Republican on the House Agriculture Committee” while the house debates the 2023 Farm Bill rather than starting over as a freshman in the Senate.  

Both Jackson Lahmeyer and state Sen. Nathan Dahm are already challenging Sen. James Lankford in the GOP primary election in Jume.

Lahmeyer stated that he’s been “bombarded with requests” to run. He said he intends to keep an eye on all options but is “inclined to continue” his challenge of Lankford. 

Inhofe will not officially vacate his senate seat until Jan. 3, 2023. The special election will take place during the national midterm election. Both senate seats will be up for grabs in November. 


Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories from Gaylord News visit