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U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe makes resignation announcement amid COVID-19 diagnosis

James Inhofe
Posted at 2:11 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 13:37:22-05

TULSA, Okla. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) announced his resignation on Friday in a news conference.

The announcement comes after a New York Times reporter tweeted the announcement was coming. 2 News started working to confirm details with Inhofe and Holland on Thursday but calls and messages were not returned.

His chief of staff Luke Holland stood at the podium while 87-year-old Inhofe talked through a phone into the mic as he dealt with what Holland called a minor case of COVID-19.

Inhofe endorsed Holland to take his place.

Inhofe is expected to remain in his seat through the end of the congressional session on Jan. 3.

Fellow U.S. Sen. James Lankford released the following statement after Inhofe's official announcement:

“Cindy and I are deeply grateful for the service and friendship of Jim and Kay Inhofe. The Senate is losing a warrior. His absence will be felt, and he will be missed. But we are thrilled for him and Kay, along with their family, to get more time together in the days ahead.

His legacy in the Senate will be remembered as a fighter for our military service members and our nation’s infrastructure. Oklahomans will remember his leadership when they’re driving on sound highways and bridges—but he will also be known for his love for Jesus and his love for sharing Jesus with the world.

On behalf of Oklahoma, we are grateful for the dedication he and Kay have given to our state. He will truly be missed in the Senate.”

MORE >>> Oklahoma lawmakers react to Sen. Jim Inhofe's retirement

What has Inhofe said previously about stepping down?

Inhofe announced after his reelection in 2020 that this would be his last term.

He's been in the Senate since 1994 and has served in elected office since the 1960s.

Inhofe's chief of staff is expected to run for the Senate seat and Inhofe is expected to support his candidacy, a source told the Associated Press.

The entire timeline of Inhofe's career

Who is set to take over his position?

Since Inhofe announced his resignation on or before March 1, a special election for the vacancy would be a part of the November ballot.

In an interview with The Oklahoman, Inhofe endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Holland, to replace him. Inhofe said he was the "most qualified" to carry on his legacy.

Holland is from Oklahoma. He grew up and attended school in Bartlesville. He later attended the University of Arkansas. Holland started as a staff assistant in Inhofe's office all the way back in 2009. During his 12 year career with Inhofe, he was in numerous positions.

He would eventually manage a wide array of responsibilities over topics like aviation, environmental, and energy policies for Inhofe.

By 2017, he became Inhofe's chief of staff. Holland coordinated with representatives from many industries, staff from various offices, and even the White House as part of his duties.

Holland officially announced he is running for the U.S. Senate and accepted Inhofe's endorsement on Feb. 25.

Besides Holland, many will contend to take over the long-held Republican position in the upcoming primaries. Oklahoma hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1990.

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