Death of longtime Republican Leader Jim Inhofe draws immediate, widespread reaction (2024)

William C. WertzThe Oklahoman

The death Tuesday of longtime Republican Senator, U.S. Representative, state legislator and Tulsa Mayor James Inhofe drew immediate and widespread comment.

Gov. Kevin Stitt quickly ordered state flags to be flown at half-mast.

"Sarah and I are saddened by the news of the passing of Senator Inhofe and our hearts go out to Kay, their children and grandchildren," the governor said in a media statement. "Jim was a generational Oklahoman who relentlessly championed our veterans, never wavered in protecting our values, and a firm believer in the American Dream. Jim will be remembered as a true statesman and public servant— and a fighter for Oklahoma. In honor of his memory and service, I'm ordering all flags on state property to be flown at half-staff until tomorrow evening."

Inhofe was a fixture in Oklahoma politics for many years. He was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Oklahoma history and before that was a member of the U.S. House for eight years. Prior to that, he spent four years as mayor of Tulsa and 10 years in the Oklahoma Legislature. Inhofe ran for governor in 1974 but lost to Democrat David Boren, the man he would later succeed in the Senate.

Here's what others had to say about Inhofe and his long service to Oklahoma:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“The people he served, a group much larger than the proud residents of the Sooner State, were better for it. Jim’s diligent stewardship of massive infrastructure projects transformed life across the Heartland. His relentless advocacy for American energy dominance unlocked new prosperity across the country. And his laser focus on growing and modernizing the US military strengthened the security of the entire free world.”

U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin

"It's fitting that Senator Jim Inhofe's middle name was Mountain -- because that's exactly what he was, not just for our state, but for the nation. Senator Inhofe's tenacity and enduring love for Oklahoma made him a titan in the Senate. He was a tireless advocate, and a wonderful friend, father, husband, and grandfather. While I will never be able to fill his shoes, Jim's spirit, passion, and love of country will continue to inspire me each and every day. Our prayers are with Kay, his former staff, and the entire Inhofe family."

U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern

"Jim spent his life in service to his country, both in uniform and in the halls of Congress. He will always be remembered as a fighter, especially for our military service members. Jim’s legacy of service, leadership, and faith reflect the Oklahoma Standard and the pride he held in his work. Along with the family, friends, and many Oklahomans who knew and loved him, I mourn the loss of a great man.”

U.S. Rep. Josh Brecheen

“I am very sad to hear of the passing of former Oklahoma United States Senator Jim Inhofe. Jim and his family devoted nearly sixty years of public service for the people of Oklahoma. May the peace that only the Lord can provide be with the Inhofe family during this difficult time,.”

Former U.S. Senator, Governor and OU President David Boren

I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Senator Jim Inhofe. I had the opportunity to serve with Jim in the Oklahoma State Legislature and late in the Congress for many years. We worked together many times in a bipartisan spirit for the benefit of the people of our state. We desperately need that ability to work together across party lines in our nation today. Jim will be missed by his many friends and remembered for his service to our state and nation. While we ran against each other for Governor, we were opponents but never enemies and remained friends. I hope we can rebuild that spirit in American politics.

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell

"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sen. James Mountain Inhofe. Jim Inhofe dedicated his life to public service and led with courage and integrity. I will be forever indebted to him for giving me my first job in politics and for his wise counsel over the years. Lisa and I offer our condolences to Kay and the rest of his loved ones during this difficult time."

Oklahoma GOP Chair Nathan Dahm

“Jim Mountain Inhofe lived up to his name. He truly was a mountain of a figure in Oklahoma politics, especially for the Republican Party. He served the people of this State from the local level and rose to leadership at the national level where he represented us so well in Washington D.C. He was a staunch defender of our military, even before he served as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.”

State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters

"My family and I join all Oklahomans in mourning the passing of Senator Jim Inhofe today. Senator Inhofe embodied the best of Oklahoma values not only in his service in Washington, DC but also in his private life. His commitment to the people of Oklahoma was unmatched, and he leaves a lasting legacy in our state."

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka

"Sen. Jim Inhofe was someone who truly lived up to his middle name of Mountain. A giant in Oklahoma and American politics, his steadfast leadership helped shape the course of our state and nation for decades. His contributions to our nation's military and aviation infrastructure will benefit our country for generations to come, and his commitment to his conservative values was unwavering. There are few who have served in the U.S. Senate who were as well-respected and revered as Sen. Inhofe, and we truly will not see his like again. My condolences go out to his family during this extremely difficult time."

Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-OKC

“Unwavering in his beliefs and conservative values, he championed many causes during his career, including his support for the military, national defense and infrastructure. His dedication and influence in shaping policies in both Oklahoma and on a national level have left a lasting impact. My wife, Maressa, and I send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family and many friends.”

Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-OKC

“My condolences go out to the family and friends of Senator Jim Inhofe. He was a tenacious leader, state representative, and United States Senator who stood firm in his convictions. He bravely served our country in more ways than one and has left a long-lasting impact on the State of Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-OKC

“Few have done more than James Mountain Inhofe for the people of Oklahoma. From supporting countless miles of infrastructure development, standing up for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, his commitment to our men and women in uniform, or his unwavering commitment to conservative values, and so much more, Oklahoma lost an irreplaceable legend.”

OKC Mayor David Holt

"Senator Jim Inhofe leaves many legacies in Oklahoma City. The most important by far was his lifetime of work protecting and strengthening Tinker Air Force Base, and that’s why an interchange in OKC near Tinker is named for him."

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum

"While his tenure as the longest-serving United States Senator in Oklahoma history reserves his rightful place in the record books, Jim Inhofe was also one of Tulsa’s most accomplished mayors. He created the first city sales tax for capital improvements - the Third Penny - which has funded billions in street and infrastructure enhancements over the last half century. He modernized our trash system, established our 9-1-1 call system, and created our Sister Cities program that went on to build cultural ties between our city and nearly every continent around the world. My thoughts today are with Kay and the entire extended Inhofe family."

Historian and attorney Bob Burke

"I was heavily involved in the 1974 Oklahoma governor's race on David Boren's staff. Boren obviously won the election, but he and Jim were cordial. There was none of the lifetime hate or personal character assaults that have, unfortunately, become commonplace in America. I credit him over the last 20 years with helping keep a strong military presence and investment at bases and installations in Oklahoma."

Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation Director Tim Gatz

"No one cared more deeply for Oklahomans and for our nation than Senator Inhofe. The department is grateful for his dedication and contributions to infrastructure while making certain Oklahoma was receiving its fair share of the federal transportation programs. We are well positioned for the future because of his efforts. For many years Senator Inhofe served as chairman and ranking member of the Environment and Public Works committee and worked to craft major pieces of transportation and infrastructure legislation that benefited all corners of the state. Most recently, he helped ODOT receive a BUILD grant to replace the Bridgeport Bridge on US-281/Route 66 prior to the celebration of the Mother Road. In 2022, work began on the more than $170 million I-40/Douglas interchange, to be complete in 2025, which the Oklahoma Legislature named 'The U.S. Senator James Inhofe Interchange,’ in his honor."

Death of longtime Republican Leader Jim Inhofe draws immediate, widespread reaction (2024)

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