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Inhofe Eyes Record-Breaking Election Win in 2014

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The senior senator from Oklahoma is looking to win a record fifth U.S. Senate election this fall and would become the longest-serving member in the chamber from the Sooner State mid-way through his next term

jiminhofe10.jpgOklahoma voters will go to the polls Tuesday for several primary contests including both U.S. Senate seats.

With Tom Coburn announcing his resignation from the seat in January, the focus has been on the GOP scramble to replace him with seven candidates on the ballot including one U.S. Representative (James Lankford), a former Speaker of the Oklahoma House (T.W. Shannon), and a former State Senator (Randy Brogdon).

Meanwhile, in the race for the expiring term, incumbent Jim Inhofe will also face a handful of primary challengers - though none are established politicians and the GOP race is expected to be so lopsided that it hasn't even been polled.

A reliable conservative, Inhofe was ranked as the fifth most conservative member of the chamber by National Journal for his 2013 voting record, though the Oklahoma Senator is sometimes overshadowed by Tea Party all-stars such as Ted Cruz of Texas or Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Presuming Inhofe wins the primary, he will face Democratic political newcomer and financial planner Matt Silverstein in the general election.

A victory in November would notch Inhofe his fifth U.S. Senate election victory - the most in state history.

Inhofe - who won a 1994 special election to replace Democrat David Boren and three subsequent full terms in 1996, 2002, and 2008 - is one of four Oklahomans to win four U.S. Senate races.

The first was one of the state's inaugural senators, Democrat Thomas Gore, who won his seat in 1907, was reelected in 1908, and then was victorious in the state's first direct election to the chamber in 1914 before losing his renomination bid in 1920.

Ten years later, however, Gore was elected to Oklahoma's other Senate seat for his fourth victory and served six more years before losing another renomination bid in 1936.

Democrat Elmer Thomas was next - winning the Elections of 1926, 1932, 1938, and 1944 before losing his renomination bid in 1950 to Congressman Mike Monroney. (Monroney and Thomas emerged from a seven-candidate Democratic primary to a runoff where the U.S. Representative won 53 percent of the vote).

Thirty years later, Republican Don Nickles claimed the first of his four terms in 1980 and won by increasing margins in 1986, 1992, and 1998.

Senator Infhofe currently ranks third in the state for the most days served in the nation's upper legislative chamber at 19 years, 7 months, 5 days (7,157 days) through Sunday.

Topping that list is Nickles, who tallied 24 years in office (8,766 days) from 1981 to 2005.

Nickels and the aforementioned Thomas each served four full terms, but Thomas served only 23 years, 9 months, 30 days (8,706 days) because his service began when Congressional terms began and ended on March 3rd and he exited the chamber after that date had changed to January 3rd.

Inhofe will have served 20 years, 1 month, 17 days (7,352 days) at the end of this term and would pass Nickles for the longest tenure in state history with 8,767 days served on November 18, 2018, or nearly halfway through his next term.

Length of Service for Oklahoma U.S Senators, 1907-present

Rank
Senator
Party
Period
Years
# Days
1
Don Nickles
Republican
1981-2005
24 years
8,766
2
Elmer Thomas
Democrat
1927-1951
23 years, 9 months, 30 days
8,706
3
James Inhofe
Republican
1994-present
19 years, 7 months, 5 days
7,157*
4
Thomas Gore
Democrat
1907-1921; 1931-1937
19 years, 20 days
6,963
5
Mike Monroney
Democrat
1951-1969
18 years
6,575
6
Robert Owen
Democrat
1907-1925
17 years, 2 months, 20 days
6,292
7
David Boren
Democrat
1979-1994
15 years, 10 months, 12 days
5,795
8
Robert Kerr
Democrat
1949-1963
13 years, 11 months, 29 days
5,111
9
Henry Bellmon
Republican
1969-1981
12 years
4,383
10
Tom Coburn
Republican
2005-present
9 years, 5 months, 19 days
3,457*
11
Fred Harris
Democrat
1964-1973
8 years, 1 month, 29 days
2,981
12
Edward Moore
Republican
1943-1949
6 years
2,192
13
Dewey Bartlett
Republican
1973-1979
6 years
2,191
13
Joshua Lee
Democrat
1937-1943
6 years
2,191
15
John Harreld
Republican
1921-1927
5 years, 11 months, 27 days
2,190
15
William Pine
Republican
1925-1931
5 years, 11 months, 27 days
2,190
17
J. Howard Edmondson
Democrat
1963-1964
1 year, 9 months, 27 days
666
* Through June 22, 2014. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

But while a victory in November would give Inhofe one state record with a fifth U.S. Senate victory and put him on pace for another for the longest tenure, the Oklahoma politician already has one state record under his belt.

At 79 years old, Inhofe is already the oldest U.S. Senator in Sooner State history.

The U.S. Army veteran was sworn into office on his 60th birthday in 1994 - making him older than more than half of the men to serve Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate on his first day in office. (Nine of Oklahoma's 17 U.S. Senators exited the chamber before their 60th birthday).

As of Sunday, Inhofe is 79 years, 7 months, 5 days old, or nearly two and one-half years older than the second oldest U.S. Senator in state history - Republican Edward Moore (1943-1949).

Moore was 77 years, 1 month, and 15 days old on his last day in office in January 1949.

Only one other Oklahoman has served while in their 70s - Democrat Elmer Thomas (1927-1951) was 74 years, 3 months, 26 days old on his last day in the chamber.

The retiring Tom Coburn is currently seventh on the list at 66 years, 3 months, 8 days through Sunday but will pass Democrat Robert Kerr (66 years, 3 months, 21 days) for sixth next month.

Oldest Oklahoma U.S. Senators in State History

Rank
Senator
Party
In office
Age at Exit
1
James Inhofe
Republican
1994-present
79 years, 7 months, 5 days*
2
Edward Moore
Republican
1943-1949
77 years, 1 month, 15 days
3
Elmer Thomas
Democrat
1927-1951
74 years, 3 months, 26 days
4
Robert Owen
Democrat
1907-1925
69 years, 1 month, 1 day
5
Mike Monroney
Democrat
1951-1969
66 years, 10 months, 1 day
6
Robert Kerr
Democrat
1949-1963
66 years, 3 months, 21 days
7
Tom Coburn
Republican
2005-present
66 years, 3 months, 8 days*
8
Thomas Gore
Democrat
1907-1921; 1931-1937
66 years, 24 days
9
Dewey Bartlett
Republican
1973-1979
59 years, 9 months, 6 days
10
Henry Bellmon
Republican
1969-1981
59 years, 4 months
11
Don Nickles
Republican
1981-2005
56 years, 28 days
12
John Harreld
Republican
1921-1927
55 years, 1 month, 7 days
13
David Boren
Democrat
1979-1994
53 years, 6 months, 25 days
14
William Pine
Republican
1925-1931
53 years, 2 months, 3 days
15
Joshua Lee
Democrat
1937-1943
50 years, 11 months, 11 days
16
Fred Harris
Democrat
1964-1973
42 years, 1 month, 20 days
17
J. Howard Edmondson
Democrat
1963-1964
39 years, 1 month, 7 days
* Through June 22, 2014. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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