Inhofe has drawn a Democratic opponent, Tulsa financial planner Matt Silverstein, who raised more than $80,000 in just a few weeks and has described Inhofe as a “belligerent, wasteful spending creature of Washington, D.C.”
“I don't care that Senator Inhofe loves to fly his airplane,” Silverstein said in a recent speech. “I do think before he brags about how he loves to fly upside down, he should probably first focus on landing his airplane on a runway that's actually open.”
Silverstein was referencing a 2010 incident in which Inhofe landed his plane on a runway in south Texas that was marked closed and was under construction. Inhofe, who repeatedly denied fault in the incident, had to take remedial training to avoid legal action from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Inhofe turned that incident into a legislative victory; he authored a bill to give pilots more rights in disputes with the FAA. And he persuaded Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to get the bill through the Senate.
Close to Democrats
For all of his harsh criticism of Democrats, Inhofe speaks positively of the relationships he has with senators of the party. He said he was close to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy; and he and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., disagree on most everything — particularly global warming — but have a friendship that transcends those disputes. He called former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton “very easy to get along with.”
Inhofe sometimes has strong disagreements with those in Congress associated with the tea party.
He has fought them on funding for highways and water projects — which he supports — and, recently on aid to Egypt — which he also supports.
But he said he wasn't worried about the tea party or other conservative groups looking for a candidate to challenge him the Republican primary.
“They would have to be to the right of me, and I don't think there is anyone out there,” he said.