Inhofe’s chief of staff launches Oklahoma Senate campaign to succeed his boss

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Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., announced his early retirement from the Senate on Friday and endorsed longtime aide Luke Holland in the special election to fill the seat.

Inhofe, 87, will step down in January and not complete the remainder of his term which was due to end in 2027, saying “now is the time to stand back and support Oklahoma’s next generation of leaders. “.

In his resignation letter, Inhofe announced his endorsement for Holland “because Luke is a fierce conservative and the best person to continue my legacy of strong national defense and investment in local infrastructure.”


Holland kicked off his campaign Friday with an event in Oklahoma City, where Inhofe had to phone in his endorsement message after contracting a “mild case” of COVID-19, his office said.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., arrives for the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, in the Dirksen Building Sept. 28, 2021.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Holland said he was running to restore former President Trump’s conservative policies and to rebuild the military, stop socialism, protect domestic oil and gas production and uphold Christian values.

“I’m so excited to be in the race and to fight for the things that we hold so dear here in Oklahoma that are being torn apart by socialists and the left,” Holland told Fox News Digital in an interview.

When asked what kind of Republican he was, Holland replied, “I’m a Jim Inhofe Republican. He always had the Lord as his true north and always said what he believed.”

Holland said he shared the same policy positions as Inhofe, including increasing defense spending and rejecting climate change policies.


“This thinking that man controls the climate and we have to pass all these regulations, it’s really just a way for the left to try to bankrupt oil and gas,” Holland said about of climate change. “…Jim said it was the greatest hoax ever perpetrated against the American people, and I agree.”

Holland, 35, has never run for public office and his work experience has been working for Inhofe. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Holland said he started working in the senator’s mailroom in Washington, D.C., in 2009 and worked his way up to chief of staff in 2017. .

Oklahoma Republican Luke Holland has just resigned as Senator Jim Inhofe's chief of staff and launched his candidacy on February 25, 2022 to run for Inhofe's Senate seat with Inhofe's endorsement.

Oklahoma Republican Luke Holland has just resigned as Senator Jim Inhofe’s chief of staff and launched his candidacy on February 25, 2022 to run for Inhofe’s Senate seat with Inhofe’s endorsement.
(Clay Jenkins (for the Luke Holland campaign))

A devout Christian, Holland is open about his faith (“I’m a Jesus guy”) and how he hopes Trump’s Supreme Court nominees will ensure Roe v. Wade be overturned this year by the court.

“I think abortion is the biggest moral black mark on American society right now,” Holland said.

Holland is not shy about his lack of experience as a candidate for elected office. He points out that other first-time candidates have had success, including former President Trump and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.

“He knows it’s bold, but I think we need bold leadership right now,” Holland said of his first race.

Holland is single and has no children. He is a fourth-generation Oklahoman and his family settled in Bartlesville, where Holland grew up. He currently lives in Tulsa.


He will have very little time to campaign, fundraise and build his profile. The special election will take place this year with a primary on June 28, a runoff on August 23 and a general election on November 8.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., holds a snowball during a speech in the Senate Feb. 26, 2015. He released "Climate Hypocrite Award" as activists around the world urge urgency on the issue.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., waves a snowball during a speech in the Senate February 26, 2015. He released the ‘Climate Hypocrite Awards’ as activists around the world make the case for the emergency On the question.

The newly elected senator would take office just as Inhofe steps down on Jan. 3 to leave no vacancies in the Senate, which is currently split evenly between 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats.

Other potential candidates are GOP representatives. Markwayne Mullin and Kevin Hern; TW Shannon, former speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives; and Gentner Drummond, who previously ran for attorney general, a source told Fox News.

Holland said what will set him apart from other candidates is his connection to Oklahoma values, his deep roots in the state and his know-how for getting things done in Washington.

“It’s different because I’m up front now,” Holland said of his time in the spotlight. “That’s me basically saying, ‘Hey, I’m the guy who wants to defend Oklahoma. I know what Oklahoma wants. I know how to do it.'”


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