OKLAHOMA CITY — Supporters of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe expected the worst when he took the stage at Saturday’s Oklahoma GOP convention after his popularity had been tested by refusing to vote to challenge the Electoral College decision in January.

Not a mask was in sight as Inhofe laid out his reasons for voting to certify the election of Democratic President Joe Biden before hundreds of the party’s faithful gathered in Oklahoma City’s shiny new convention center.

Inhofe has taken 18 oaths of office in his career — the most of anyone from Oklahoma — and said he would have broken those oaths and the Constitution had he challenged Biden’s defeat of then-President Donald Trump.

“I didn’t get the response I thought I would … I don’t really have a choice, you either do keep your oath of office or you don’t,” Inhofe said. “But there’s no question about the righteousness of it, it’s an oath of office and that’s where you draw the line, you can’t violate the oath of office.”

As Inhofe spoke, Oklahoma County resident Charles DeFuria stood in front of the podium, turned his back to the senator and plugged his ears to make a statement that he did not agree with the choice the senator made on Jan. 6.

“The thing was, he needed to do something on Jan. 6, and he didn’t do it, and neither did (U.S. Sen. James) Lankford,” DeFuria said. “We just needed 10 days to look into all these irregularities in the voting machines where all of a sudden Biden’s got all of these extra votes and they’ve actually subtracted votes from Trump. Then there was this fake insurrection and Lankford said there’s nothing we can do now because of it, but it wasn’t an insurrection, it was ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter and it was a setup.”

The allegations made by DeFuria have not been proven.

Other people in the crowd began shouting for Inhofe to “stop wasting time” and to “get off the stage,” in the midst of his speech, including DeFuria and Cimarron County resident Tifany Adams. Inhofe continued to speak regardless of the detractors.

“Inhofe, he needs to leave,” Adams said.

“He needs to even leave the Republican party, we don’t need people like him, we don’t want RINO’s, we need people that stand for Trump, we’re gonna get Trump back in (office),” she said, referring to those known as Republicans in Name Only.

Despite the backlash, Inhofe’s team backed up his choice to address the state convention.

“I think that it was good for him to explain the background of why he made that decision that he did, and I think that the crowd here has always been receptive of what the Constitution calls for, and so I think it was actually really well received,” said Inhofe Chief of Staff Luke Holland. “The people now can see his perspective on what he really believed was the right thing to do, and there aren’t always opportunities to do that … so this is a good opportunity for him to make it really clear.”

Inhofe, 86, is in the first year of what he has said will be his final six-year term.

“We have a new emerging group of folks that are coming within the party, they are frustrated with the election results,” GOP vice chairman candidate Shane Jemison said. “They want to get involved in every precinct and every community across the state to make sure that their state and their nation reflects the values which they believe in.”

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.