Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has entered the U.S. Senate race in Oklahoma to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
Pruitt, who served in the EPA during a portion of former President Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House, has jumped into a crowded primary field that includes U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), who has been serving in the House since 2013.
The winner of the Senate seat will be determined by a special election, as Inhofe is vacating his position early, stating that he is retiring in order to spend more time with family. The 87-year-old senator was elected for another six-year term in the 2020 election cycle, so he will be stepping down long before his term was supposed to end. Inhofe, who plans to retire effective January 3, 2023, has served in the Senate for more than a quarter century, having entered office in late 1994.
Pruitt, who also previously served as Oklahoma’s attorney general, and as an Oklahoma state senator, allegedly resigned from his role at the EPA amid ethics-related scandals.
According to reporting from The Associated Press, Pruitt denies these scandals, instead saying that he “led with conviction in Washington, D.C.,” and describing the EPA as the “Holy Grail of the American left.”
“I think Oklahomans know when the New York Times and CNN and MSNBC and those places are against you, Oklahomans are for you,” Pruitt stated, according to the outlet.
The state will also be holding an election for its other Senate seat in this year’s midterms. The seat is currently occupied by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who is seeking reelection against challengers within his own party and outside of it.
The Senate Democrats are barely holding onto power: Currently, there are 50 GOP senators, 48 Democrat senators, and two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats. With a Democrat vice president, Kamala Harris, as the tie-breaker, they have a very slim majority. Losing even one seat would destroy that, but picking up one of these Oklahoma seats could secure them a better hold on the Senate.
Looking at the current state of the country, with skyrocketing inflation and soaring gas prices, it is likely that the American people will be blaming the party in power for their current woes, and the Democrats will struggle during the midterms. Therefore, whichever Republican ends up winning these primary elections has a decent shot at taking their respective Senate seat.