Oklahomans should learn next Friday whether U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, at the age of 85 will seek re-election or retire from the Senate.
He told reporters this week in Washington, D.C. he plans to announce next Friday but didn’t indicate if he has already decided or is weighing what to do.
Inhofe was first elected to the Senate in 1994 and easily won re-election four times. He previously served in the House since 1987. Inhofe admits if he runs again, his chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee might be affected.
“When you chair … arguably the most significant committee in the United States Senate, once you are a candidate … you’re not looked at as a chairman as much as you are a candidate, and we got a lot to do,” Inhofe told reporters on Monday. “There are a lot of people that are going to be running against me if I make that decision on the sixth of March.”
With the GOP in control of the U.S. Senate, Inhofe is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. But his experience also includes the years he was chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He was directly involved in the work on the Tar Creek Superfund site in northeast Oklahoma. Inhofe remains a member of the EPW committee.
He is known for his anti-climate change stance and once took a snowball to the floor of the Senate to speak against those who blamed humans for climate change.
But the Senator is also a long-time pilot who prides himself on flying his own planes to campaign stops and town hall meetings around the state.
If he runs again, the Republican Senator already has a handful of Democrat opponents. And they have already been spewing their criticism of Inhofe.
As Non-Doc reported last fall, former TV reporter Abby Broyles is one of them, claiming Sen. Inhofe ” “cares more about what’s right or left than what’s right or wrong.”
Broyles is 30 and told supporters, “The time for change is now.”
“The main reason I’m running is because I believe there needs to be a new generation of leadership in Washington. I’m passionate about the people here and the future of our state,” Broyles said in a phone interview with Non Doc. “I think Jim Inhofe has spent a lot of time in Washington and hasn’t gotten things done for us the way we need to get things done. I think it’s the time for change.”
Should Sen. Inhofe run for re-election, it won’t be easy. He won re-election in 2014 with 68 percent of the vote over Democrat Matt Silverstein. In 2008, the Senator defeated Democrat Andrew Rice 56 to 39 percent.
University of Central Oklahoma political science professor Dylan Billings is another Democrat candidate. Others are Bevon Rogers, and Tyler Dougherty.
Billings is a native of Edmond and received a Ph.D. in political science and public policy from the University of Oklahoma.
“I think the biggest issue for Oklahoma is just economic stability and how Oklahoma is going to poise itself as a contender in an economy that is ever changing,” Billings told Non Doc. “What we need to be doing is investing in human capital more than anything else, making sure we are training our next generation of workers the way they need to be trained.”