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Oklahoma Supreme Court declines to stop special election

Sen. Jim Inhofe

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an attorney’s attempt to stop a special election for the state’s soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat.

The high court denied attorney Stephen Jones’ request to assume original jurisdiction in the case. All nine justices concurred. The order from the court did not address the merits of the case.

Jones, who gained national prominence as the attorney for convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, maintained the governor’s call for a special election was improper because the seat was not yet vacant.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, 87, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced last month that he plans to resign in January, just two years into his six-year term. He quickly endorsed his longtime chief of staff, Luke Holland, in the race to replace him.

Inhofe also submitted an “ irrevocable pledge ” to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office on Feb. 28, triggering a new state law that allows the governor to set special election dates that coincide with Oklahoma’s regularly scheduled primary, runoff and general election dates. Gov. Kevin Stitt set the special election dates on March 1.

Had Inhofe waited until after March 1 to announce his plans to step down, Stitt would have been able to appoint a temporary replacement to fill the U.S. Senate seat.