UPDATED: In a 50-50 U.S. Senate Resignation Announcements Have Significant Meaning

Jim Inhofe

Senior U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe to submit resignation Monday, effective date, January 3, 2023, before Noon EST enabling special election this fall for unexpired term for the 118th & 119th Congresses

UPDATE 2/25/22, 11:15AM CST: Thank you commenter “bred winner” for pointing out when U.S. Senator David Boren (D, OK) left the U.S. Senate, he did a similar resignation, making Senator Jim Inhofe’s initial election a special election under the same Oklahoma law which allows for a special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat without the seat having to be vacant.

Inhofe is in his 6th term, not his 5th, winning election to Boren’s unexpired term in 1994, then winning in 1996, 2002, 2008, 2014 and 2020.

The special election this year in Oklahoma will be to serve out the remaining FOUR years of Inhofe’s 6th and final term in the U.S. Senate.

Article updated appropriately.


Jonathan Martin, New York Times writer, tweeted the following Thursday afternoon in a 3-part tweet about the pending resignation of U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R, OK), who’s serving in his 6th term in the U.S. Senate.

Tweets transcribed for ease of reading:

“Hearing that Jim Inhofe – the 87-year-old Oklahoma senator first elected in 1994 – may resign in the next few days. Would trigger an intense campaign among Republicans in a red state where Senate seats don’t come along too often.

“MORE on Inhofe: Per Oklahoma Republicans, he’s planning to announce decision to resign Monday but WILL remain in seat thru end of this Congress.

“Decision will trigger a special held in conjunction w November general.”

Jonathan Martin tweets, 2/24/22


From the desk of John Lopez: Under Oklahoma law, a U.S. Senate seat does not have to be vacant in order to call a special election to fill it once a resignation is on file, with an effective date.

Since Martin’s tweets include Inhofe will stay in office through the end of the 117th Congress on January 3, 2023, he will submit resignation with very clear effective date to trigger the special election in conjunction with the 2022 general election on November 8.

When Oklahoma’s U.S. Senator Tom Coburn did similar resignation with two years remaining in his final U.S. Senate term in 2014, a special election, including a special primary election, took place during the 2014 election cycle for the final two years of Coburn’s term. Then-Congressman James Lankford (R, OK-05) competed and won the primary without a primary runoff and went on to win election to Senator Coburn’s unexpired term.

Lankford was reelected to a full term in 2016.

Inhofe’s successor, decided in November, will need to run for reelection in the 2026 election cycle for a full term.

Therefore, Oklahoma on November 8 of this year will have both U.S. Senate seats up for election, given Senator Lankford’s term is up this year.

Given Oklahoma is a deep-red Republican state, doubtful a repeat of the Georgia U.S. Senate elections in 2020, and the subsequent early 2021 U.S. Senate runoff elections, in the future.


UPDATED: In a 50-50 U.S. Senate Resignation Announcements Have Significant Meaning — 5 Comments

  1. Oklahoma is OK!

    Over the last 50 years, going back to the elections of November 1972, 6 of the 7 U.S. Senators from Oklahoma have been Republican.

    Only one Democrat, David Boren, who was elected in November 1978, 1984, 1990 and served until his resignation in 1994 to become a university president.

    Speaking of age, old age, of course there is the senile Joe Biden as well as Californians 87-year old Senator Dianne Feinstein and 81-year old Nancy Pelosi.

  2. Ossoff’s 2021 Georgia runoff win got an assist from Libertarians in November of 2020, as their candidate got enough votes to force a runoff against 1st place finisher then-Senator Davie Perdue.

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