Inhofe: GOP will win Senate majority, and I'll be EPW chairman

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he's counting on Republicans to win back the majority in the Senate, which would make him chairman of a key environmental panel.

Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, said he counted 14 seats that could flip from Democratic to GOP control after Nov. 2's midterm elections.

"I am very confident that Republicans will take over the Senate, and I'll become chairman of that Environment and Public Works Committee," Inhofe said on Fox News Radio.

Inhofe's a noted skeptic of climate change science who's promised to thwart new regulations on emissions proposed either in Congress or by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Oklahoma conservative would likely become chairman of the committee if the GOP were to pick up the 10 or more seats it needs to win back the majority in the upper chamber.

Inhofe said he expected Republicans to hold all the Senate seats, and predicted victories for Carly Fiorina (R) over Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in California, Christine O'Donnell (R) over Chris Coons (D) in Delaware, Rep. Mark Kirk (R) over Alexi Giannoulias (D) in Illinois and Sharron Angle (R) over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in Nevada.

Other Republicans, including the chief of the Senate GOP's campaign efforts, have been more skeptical about their ability to reclaim the Senate.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), said he expected the GOP to contend for the majority in two years, during the 2012 presidential election cycle. 

Another senior Republican, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), expressed optimism on Wednesday about Republicans' chances, but stopped short of predicting a GOP majority after this fall's contests. (McCain has talked previously about Republicans' chances this election.)

"We have a shot at the Senate; we have a shot at the Senate, Russ," McCain told KBLU radio in Yuma, Ariz.

McCain, like Inhofe, would stand to take over a committee chairmanship in the case of a GOP majority. McCain said it "would be a great honor" to retake the top spot on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"A lot can happen over the next 26 days — there can't be any slacking off. We have got to work hard," he said.

Inhofe said he expected a gain of 10 much sooner.

"I think we'll get them, and I think I'll be chairing that committee," Inhofe said.

Listen to the audio of the Inhofe interview below:




Jordan Fabian contributed to this story.