Sen. Inhofe to step down at the end of this congressional session, experts weigh in

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa County Republican Party tells FOX23, Senator Jim Inhofe will announce he’s stepping down after the end of this congressional session.

This will create an interesting November election.

Senator Inhofe said in the last election this would be his final term as a senator but the GOP says they didn’t expect him to resign during the term. And the way it’s lining up timing wise, Oklahomans will elect two new senators in the November general election.

While we wait for an official announcement to come from Senator Inhofe, the Republican Party of Tulsa County is already gearing up for what will be an interesting 2022 election.

“It’s going to be an interesting election cycle and it’s going to be interesting to see how things turnout when everybody decides what office they’re going to run for,” said Chairman Ronda Vuillemont-Smith.

Senator Inhofe isn’t expected to step down until after this congressional session.

He’s also expected to officially announce this move next week, which means his seat---on top of Senator James Lankford’s seat will be up for grabs come November.

“It’s not going to create a quote unquote, special election.

It’ll still be a special election, but it’ll be held during the same election cycle as our 2022 elections,” said Vuillemont-Smith. The timing of Inhofe’s announcement inched close to the April filing deadline.

Senate Bill 959 which passed in 2021, made changes on how to fill vacancies. Chairman Ronda Vuillemont-Smith says because of good timing—Inhofe’s seat will be voted on by the people.

“If it was this time next year, the governor could appoint, the law just changed recently that the governor could appoint in the absence of a seat,” said Vuillemont-Smith.

What will that candidate pool look like? Right now, we know Nathan Dahm and Jackson Lahmeyer are campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

“They could switch over and decide not to run for the seat against Lankford, they could run for what will be an open seat, Senator Inhofe’s seat. Tulsa is going to be really well represented ballot.”

And who know, if Inhofe’s announcement could spark new names not yet mentioned. Inhofe spent years serving Oklahoma.

From the mayor of Tulsa, to serving in the state legislature, making his way to Washington, D.C. in 1994 when he was first elected to the senate. His service the republican party is well noted. “He goes out with honor, and I welcome whoever comes in,” said Vuillemont-Smith.

We did reach out to Senator Inhofe’s office but we didn’t hear back. Again, we expect to learn more about the long-time senator’s decision that was first reported by the New York Times, early next week.