As if enough was not happening.
WEST HOLLYWOOD—I remember the first time I heard of Jim Inhofe. Tasked by the principal of my high school (who was still auditioning painfully to be secretary of education), the senator from Oklahoma and then member of the environment committee of the upper house would have gone into it with the real brains of my science magnet from Northern Virginia. Your author wasn’t an Intel Science Fair finalist, don’t worry, so I wasn’t there.
But the senator’s feuds with millennials who believe in the climate have spread.
“Are you one of those climate people? Are you one of those climate people? he was said to have spiced up his audience, the kind of 18-year-olds who had just used their first votes to propel Barack Obama to power. I wonder how he thinks the next 13 years have gone in this country.
But exaggeration or not, that would prove prescient things as the senator has done for years and years on the Hill. In the lo-fi days before Donald Trump, Senator Inhofe might as well have been as exciting as Washington (or so I remember now).
“In case we forgot because we keep hearing that 2014 was the hottest year on record,” a snowball-wielding Inhofe said in 2015, “I asked the president, know- you what is it? It’s a snowball just outside here. So it’s very, very cold outside. Very out of season.
Well, in 2023 we won’t have Jim Inhofe to play with – or, if you’re a helpless intern, you’ll be spared a senator who might rob you with an icy cursor in that chamber of democracy that separates us so much from the Kremlin criminals. The 87-year-old is older than the Ayatollah, so unlike most American octogarchs, he hangs up.
Here in the Golden State, our senior senator is even older, truly representing California’s nickname in the East, but Senator Feinstein (who was mayor of San Francisco under President Carter) has just lost a husband and has has a Harvard graduate fill his office in the Senate. , psilocybin-fed maniac, who staged some sort of THC Tet offensive… so let her and La La Land off the hook.
Pulling a reverse Steinbeck, I turn my eyes to those still in the Early State. The race to succeed (quickly) the right senator is on. It may not be nice in Iowa or Ohio, but one senator matters as much as another. Ask Joe Biden. Or Julius Caesar.
The first is the potential favourite, if he plays his cards right. Alex Gray, who frequently shares a signature with (and was last seen working for) former national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien, is in the running. Gray presumably covets the man’s endorsement once a little higher up the chain, and as he pointed out in his announcement, “I have been honored to serve President Trump every day of his presidency in the House. White”.
It’s not yet clear whether Gray’s backslap will be reciprocated, but it’s worth noting that, in the small red states, Trump has demonstrated a clear ability to stop a run, especially for veterans of his administration. Consider the success of Sarah Huckabee Sanders in neighboring Arkansas. For officials in the last White House, it’s apparently hard to run for higher office or write a tell-all (former Vice President Mike Pence may be about to try both). Gray also appears to have the backing of conservative pundit and columnist Hugh Hewitt, who was an early promoter of a man called Glenn Youngkin. In the divided primaries, perhaps with modest turnout, every little bit counts, and the senator Mike Lee’s early endorsement for Gray Thursday has parallels with Senator Ted Cruz odd but a simply effective campaign for Youngkin in the Oid Dominion.
Next up is former runner-up, TW Shannon, the former state president.
Shannon blew up a run against future Senator James Lankford in 2014, losing by nearly 20 points in the primary. But he is back, officially entering the race on Thursday. No longer clean-shaven, Shannon (44) sports hipster X-ennial frames and an even more pointed, sheepskin-cropped beard. In recent months, he’s been posting content — “Go Woke, You Go Broke” and “No, Buttigieg, Everyone Shouldn’t Drive a Tesla” — as well as defending his aesthetic sensibilities, “TW stands for Turtlenecks Work” and sounding the alarm, “Twitter CEO says 1st and 2nd Amendments need tweaking.” He should be a fun comeback to the race, and would be that rare African-American Republican senator, and certainly a rarer registered member of the Chickasaw Nation.
And State Senator Nathan Dahm is on board.
At 39, Dahm is also young (everyone in this race…are property taxes really that good in Oklahoma?). Dahm seems like a throwback to the free market, telling a crowd gathered last fall from his van bed (back when he was challenging Lankford), “the one and only goal of government is to secure our rights, not trying to find ways to trample on our rights. It might be as boilerplate as a gingham shirt, but in the era of Covid draconism there would be things less amazing than, not a “libertarian moment”, but a libertarian tremor.
Dahm has the endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul, who voted a respectable 3% for president of CPAC last month (which was good for anyone not called “Trump,” “DeSantis,” or “Trump, Jr. .”) It’s a reminder of the residual infrastructure Libertarian, Inc., which can transform a race in this country. And with statements like this – “You know, I opposed Dr. Fauci’s mandates, but I need your help. That’s why I endorse Nathan Dahm for the Senate.…I know that Nathan Dahm will join me in demanding that Fauci be immediately fired and removed from office” – this is a sure sign that Republicans will target Anthony Fauci in the years to come like they did Benghazi. (Fauci has done something more ambitious).
Filling out the ranks is Congressman Markwayne Mullin, who has a big name, something you can’t ignore when Arkansas finally produced a Southern senator named “Cotton.”
The lesser known is Luke Holland, Inhofe’s chief of staff and his preferred choice. Does it even snow in Oklahoma?