OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe isn't expected to return to Washington for at least two weeks, as the conservative Republican recovers in Tulsa from emergency quadruple bypass surgery he had last week, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Inhofe, 79, who is seeking a fourth term in office next year, said the massive blockage was discovered last week during a routine doctor's visit. He returned home to Tulsa and had emergency surgery on Friday at St. John Medical Center.
"The discovery shocked me as I had no visible symptoms that something was wrong," Inhofe said in a statement Tuesday. "Today, I am feeling great and am fully engaged with my work here in Oklahoma." Inhofe spokeswoman Donelle Harder said Inhofe is expected to be away from Washington for about two weeks until doctors clear him to fly.
"I know he's already staying very engaged, as much as he can be from Oklahoma, but in regards to actually casting a vote, it could be a just a couple of weeks," Harder said. Inhofe is expected to be released from the hospital as early as Tuesday afternoon.
"I may miss some upcoming votes on the continuing resolution, but my doctors agree I will return soon and even stronger to continue the fight to protect Oklahomans' freedoms," Inhofe said. Two of Inhofe's arteries were completely blocked, another was at 90 percent blocked, and a fourth was 75 percent blocked, Harder said.
A former mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma's second largest city, Inhofe also served in the U.S. House before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994. He won re-election twice and is seeking a fourth, six-year term in office in 2014. He will face Democrat Matt Silverstein, 32, an investment planner and political newcomer from the Tulsa area.
Silverstein posted a message on his Facebook page on Tuesday hoping for Inhofe's "full and speedy recovery." Inhofe's age and health are not a concern for his campaign staff, who said they expect to schedule Inhofe for events just like they normally would.
"He's already talking about taking back the Senate (in 2014) and becoming chairman of the (Environment and Public Works) Committee, so we're going full bore," said campaign spokesman Jake Parsons. Inhofe, who has been a pilot for more than 50 years and owns several planes, is known for flying to campaign stops across the state.
"We definitely anticipate that he'll by flying again shortly, but we'll talk to the doctors about that and make sure we go about it in the proper way," Parsons said. Inhofe found himself in a flap in 2010 after he landed his plane on a closed runway in Port Isabel, Texas, hopped his Cessna aircraft over vehicles and ground personnel, and sent frightened workers scrambling before he landed the plane.
Inhofe later completed flight training to resolve the matter.
Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy