(Ny Post) – Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of the most prominent conservative members of Congress, announced Friday that he would retire from politics effective Jan. 3 of next year.

“It is bittersweet, but with a clear heart, that Kay and I announce that at the end of the year, I will retire from the United States Senate,” Inhofe, 87, said in a statement shared on social media.

“Going into public service was never in my plan. For years Kay and I were focused on our family and building our business together. Then, one day, I needed a dock permit. I had to visit 27 government offices to get a single dock permit, and realized if we wanted the government to work for the people, not against the people, it was up to us to make a change,” he continued.

“Still, when our journey of service to Oklahoma started with my first political campaign in 1967, we never expected that the road the Lord would lead us down would take us from the Oklahoma legislature, to being Mayor of Tulsa, to the House of Representatives, and, finally, the United States Senate where I was privileged to lead the committees that best serve Oklahomans.”

Inhofe is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is the former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He was up for re-election in 2026.

Under Oklahoma law, a special election will take place this fall to fill Inhofe’s seat, which is likely to remain in Republican hands.

Among those expected to consider entering the race are GOP Reps. Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin; former speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives T.W. Shannon, who ran for US Senate in 2014; and Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond, who is currently running for attorney general.

In his interview with The Oklahoman newspaper, Inhofe endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Holland, to replace him.

“I didn’t make a solid decision until two or three weeks ago,” Inhofe told the outlet. “There has to be one day where you say, ‘All right, this is going to be it.’”

Inhofe is the sixth Senate Republican to announce his retirement ahead of this year’s midterm elections, joining Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Roy Blunt of Missouri.