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Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., made his early retirement from the Senate official Friday and threw his support behind his longtime staffer, Luke Holland, for the special election to fill the seat.
Inhofe, 87, will step down in January and will not complete the remainder of his term that was to end in 2027, saying the “time has come to stand aside and support the next generation of Oklahoma 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 a strong national defense and investment in local infrastructure.”
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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.
Holland said he’s running to restore former President Trump’s conservative policies and to rebuild the military, stop socialism, protect domestic oil and gas production and support Christian values.
“I’m just really excited to get in the race and to fight for the things that we hold so dear here in Oklahoma that are being ripped apart by the socialists and the left,” Holland told Fox News Digital in an interview.
Asked what kind of Republican he is, Holland says: “I’m a Jim Inhofe Republican. He has always had the Lord as his true north and has always said what he believes.”
Holland said he shares the same policy positions as Inhofe, including boosting defense spending and rejecting climate change policies.
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“This thought that the man is in control of the climate and that we need to pass all these regulations, it’s really just a foil for the left to try to put oil and gas out of business,” Holland said of climate change. “… Jim said that it’s the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people, and I agree with it.”
Holland, 35, has never run for public office and his professional experience has all 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 rose through the ranks to become the chief of staff in 2017.
A devout Christian, Holland talks openly about his faith (“I’m a Jesus guy”) and how he hopes Trump’s Supreme Court nominees will ensure that Roe v. Wade is overturned this year in the court.
“I think that abortion is the greatest moral black mark on American society right now,” Holland said.
Holland isn’t shying away from his lack of experience running for an elected office. He points out that other first-time candidates have had success, including former President Trump and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“It know it’s bold, but I think we need bold leadership right now,” Holland said of his first-time run.
Holland is single and has no kids. He’s a fourth-generation Oklahoman, and his family settled in Bartlesville, where Holland was raised. He currently lives in Tulsa.
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He’ll have a very short timeframe to campaign, raise money and build his profile. The special election will be held this year with a primary on June 28, primary run-off on Aug. 23, and a general election on Nov. 8.
The newly elected senator would take office just as Inhofe steps down on Jan. 3 to not leave a vacancy in the Senate, which is currently evenly split at 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats.
Other potential candidates are GOP Reps. Markwayne Mullin and Kevin Hern; T.W. Shannon, the former speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives; and Gentner Drummond, who previously ran for attorney general, one source told Fox News.
Holland said what will set him apart from other candidates is his connection to Oklahoma values, deep roots in the state and the know-how of getting things done in Washington.
“It’s different because I’m out in front now,” Holland said of stepping into the spotlight. “I’m the one actually saying ‘hHey, I’m the guy who wants to advocate for Oklahoma. I know what Oklahoma wants. I know how to get it done.'”
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/inhofe-chief-of-staff-launches-oklahoma-senate-campaign-to-succeed-his-boss