Coburn to retire at end of 2014

posted at 8:41 am on January 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

There’s not much to say about the latest retirement announcement from Congress, except for how sorry most of will be — or should be — to see Senator Tom Coburn leave. The junior Senator from Oklahoma has been fighting cancer for a while, and hoped to remain healthy enough finish up his second term, which he had long said would be his last anyway. Instead, he’ll cut it two years short:

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn confirmed Thursday night that he will not serve out his full Senate term and intends to step down after 2014 because of deepening health problems.

In a statement, Coburn acknowledged that he is battling a serious recurrence of cancer and said he would continue to fight for his priorities during the remainder of his time in office.

“Carolyn and I have been touched by the encouragement we’ve received from people across the state regarding my latest battle against cancer. But this decision isn’t about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires,” Coburn said. “As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere.”

Coburn first came to Washington in the Republican “revolution” of 1994, part of the conservative reform effort that pledged to impose term limits on Congress. Instead, he imposed it on himself, serving three terms in the House before going back to his practice as a physician in Oklahoma. He returned in a surprise dark-horse Senate bid in 2004, again promising to self-limit his tenure to two terms. Throughout his career, he focused on fiscal policy and budget deficits, trying to push the federal government away from ruinous debt and especially the ObamaCare folly.

What comes next? A special election, but not in this cycle, as Coburn pledged to hold his seat until the next session of Congress begins in 2015:

Coburn’s resignation means there will be a special election held next year to fill out the remainder of his term. Republicans are heavily favored to hold onto his seat in a deeply conservative state. Oklahoma is also one of several states that prohibits governors from appointing a placeholder senator, so there will be a vacancy after his resignation until the special election is held.

The special election will need to take place relatively quickly, so it won’t leave anyone at a true disadvantage for very long, if at all. If Republicans hold only 50 seats after the midterm elections, Democrats would still control the chamber (thanks to Vice President Joe Biden’s vote), so a drop to 49 for a few months won’t make a difference. If the GOP gets to 51, Democrats will only have 49, and the GOP would still control even if it became 50-49.

Fortunately, Coburn will stick around this year and keep pushing his fiscal-conservative policy agenda. Let’s hope people pay attention in 2014.

Update: Actually, as Adam Bonin and Aaron Blake explain, the “special” election could be in November, even if Coburn wants to serve out the full current session.  It just depends on when Coburn tenders his official letter of resignation:

As election lawyer Adam Bonin notes, Coburn can issue his resignation date early, apparently allowing Fallin to set the election before he resigns and potentially for the same day as the 2014 general election. In that case, Coburn’s resignation date would be binding.

Given Coburn’s penchant for saving taxpayer’s money, it would seem a good bet he would do what he can to avoid the cost of holding a separate special election.

 


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Blech. At least we still have McCain.

How soon before the ever-sensitive lefties make fun of Coborn’s disease.

Bishop on January 17, 2014 at 8:44 AM

The cancer is in Washington.
Hope he becomes miraculously cured after he leaves!
Good Luck with your fight Tom!

Neal4007 on January 17, 2014 at 8:45 AM

They won’t be paying attention….

cmsinaz on January 17, 2014 at 8:49 AM

I wish Sen. Coburn the best. And I have complete faith that the wonderful people of Oklahoma bring forth another excellent Senator.

Love that place.

M240H on January 17, 2014 at 8:53 AM

There’s not much to say about the latest retirement announcement from Congress, except for how sorry most of will be — or should be — to see Senator Tom Coburn leave.

20 years is 8 years too long.

NotCoach on January 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

God strengthen you during your fight, Senator.

That being said…The Tea party is NOT YOUR ENEMY.

The opposition party and those who support them, within your own political party, are.

kingsjester on January 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

A blow for fiscal conservatives.

Yeah because they’ve been so successful up to now with him around…

Akzed on January 17, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Despite Senator Coburn being just another lifer in congress, I wish him well in his struggle against cancer and send my prayers.

NotCoach on January 17, 2014 at 8:56 AM

I wish Sen. Coburn the best. And I have complete faith that the wonderful people of Oklahoma bring forth another excellent Senator.

Love that place.

M240H on January 17, 2014 at 8:53 AM

I nominate J. C. Watts.

Kafir on January 17, 2014 at 9:04 AM

nominate J. C. Watts.

Kafir on January 17, 2014 at 9:04 AM

I’d love to see TW Shannon. JC was his mentor. He’s an excellent speaker.

dforston on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Prayers ascending for Dr. Coburn…

OmahaConservative on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 AM

I nominate J. C. Watts.

+1000000000

LordMaximus on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 AM

I see several ignorant idiots have posted here about him bering in congress too long – for 20 years. Also about how he has not been a successful conservative.

As an Oklahoman (OKIE to republicans) Tom Coburn has always kept his word as to term limits. Tlhe conservatives pushed three in the house and two in the senate. He did not run for re-election after three house terms. This was going to be the last and second senate term. He has done exactly what he said he would do you ignoramous.

20 years is 8 years too long.

NotCoach on January 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Tom Coburn turned down highway money because , although the work was needed, it was issued under “pork” provisions. Of course the dhimocraptic (at the time) politicians took the money for their projects, but Tom Still didn’t. All the dems and Tulsa World could do was tell us how he hated Oklahomans. Tom never took pork. We will miss him, but we will replace him with one just as good. Now, you gripers and bitchers, why don’t you do the same?

Old Country Boy on January 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM

the current OK Speaker of The House, T.W. Shannon, is very impressive

commodore on January 17, 2014 at 9:16 AM

O gee, I must have run afoul of the language police. I think I am going to find another site to join. I am getting tired of the censorship on Hot Air. I used the phrase ” griping and bit..ing”. I forgot how Ed and MKH are.

Old Country Boy on January 17, 2014 at 9:17 AM

20 years is 8 years too long.

NotCoach on January 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Umm not 20. He served 6yrs in the House. Left for 4yrs came back and served a 6 yr Senate term. Got re-elected and was to serve until 2016. He is leaving early. He will serve 16 years at best. Hardly a lifer and certainly not 20.

Conservative4Ever on January 17, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Hate to see him go, he was one of the good ones. All the best Senator.

Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma AG, will be a likely candidate, and would be an excellent senator in my opinion.

Meric1837 on January 17, 2014 at 9:20 AM

That being said…The Tea party is NOT YOUR ENEMY.

The opposition party and those who support them, within your own political party, are.

kingsjester on January 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Yeah, as I posted earlier, there is something wrong when a Senator from OK goes out and attacks somebody like Ted Cruz. Coburn has been turned by too many years in DC. I hope he makes a full recovery both in his health and with his connection to real Americans.

Happy Nomad on January 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

I nominate J. C. Watts.

Kafir on January 17, 2014 at 9:04 AM

You just want to see Mika’s head explode on morning television.

Happy Nomad on January 17, 2014 at 9:23 AM

A blow for fiscal conservatives.

Yeah because they’ve been so successful up to now with him around…

Akzed on January 17, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Exactly. Fiscal conservatives are never going to get anything out of that farce called the GOP.

rickv404 on January 17, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Sad to see not only the retirement of Dr. Coburn, but the negative tenor of many of the early comments. This is still a conservative site, no? Aside from his staunch conservatism, the man is arguably the most decent human being in the Senate. As an Okie, my only knock on him was working with then-Senator Obama on “ethics reform,” which gave the neophyte jackanape cover as literally his sole accomplishment in the Senate. Coburn, being Coburn, saw the best in him and was rightly hornswaggled. I wish him and his family nothing but the best, and hope fellow Okies don’t lose their collective minds and nominate a name rather than a true conservative.

King B on January 17, 2014 at 9:27 AM

At least we still have McCain.

Bishop on January 17, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Yeah, lucky us!

I think the Dems will be somewhat subdued here. It would be another matter entirely if there was a realistic shot that they could get a Dem elected as his replacement. This doesn’t change the dynamics at all. By contrast, Ed Gillespie announced his run for the Senate in Virginia and the Dems are already attacking because Warner is more vulnerable than the pundit class is acknowledging.

Happy Nomad on January 17, 2014 at 9:27 AM

At one point I hoped he’d run for President, but my views of him have changed over the last few years. Still, I’d rather have a caucus of Coburns than a caucus of McCains.

Overall, a distinguished career. Not without its blemishes, but who among us can not say that?

I wish him well, and his family.

Chris of Rights on January 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Also, JC Watts is a decent man, but he’s a political buffoon and would be a horrible Senator.

King B on January 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM

You just want to see Mika’s head explode on morning television.

Happy Nomad on January 17, 2014 at 9:23 AM

No, but that would be a bonus (assuming I could stomach even a few minutes of PMSDNC).

Kafir on January 17, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Senator Coburn was a successful physician with a family and an esteemed member of his community before deciding that he wished to become a public servant. He has done his best to serve Oklahoma and the nation and has defied the status quo in Washington DC to speak for fiscal conservatism, pointing out waste and abuse where he found it, in an effort to be of service.

Senator Coburn is a singularity in congress, particularly these days, as he never viewed politics as a career in itself. He pledged to only serve two terms in the Senate and always intended to return to his work in the private sector.

While we in Oklahoma will miss his steadfast work on our behalf and that of the nation, we are very proud of him and wish him and his family well.

thatsafactjack on January 17, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Despite Senator Coburn being just another lifer in congress, I wish him well in his struggle against cancer and send my prayers.

NotCoach on January 17, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Reading comprehension is hard, I guess. You really shouldn’t comment on a) what you dont know, and b) what you apparently didn’t *read*.

Midas on January 17, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Thatsafactjack: Can’t say it any better. Tom Coburn is a good man.

celtic warrior on January 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Vaguely concerned about the race. Brad Henry, former Democratic Governor, is fairly young (50 years old) and was reelected with 66.5% in 2006.

Mister Mets on January 17, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Senator Coburn was a successful physician with a family and an esteemed member of his community before deciding that he wished to become a public servant. He has done his best to serve Oklahoma and the nation and has defied the status quo in Washington DC to speak for fiscal conservatism, pointing out waste and abuse where he found it, in an effort to be of service.

Senator Coburn is a singularity in congress, particularly these days, as he never viewed politics as a career in itself. He pledged to only serve two terms in the Senate and always intended to return to his work in the private sector.

While we in Oklahoma will miss his steadfast work on our behalf and that of the nation, we are very proud of him and wish him and his family well.

thatsafactjack on January 17, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Well said, as an Okie, I wanted to say something similar, but I think you covered it better than I could have.

mbs on January 17, 2014 at 10:15 AM

When I moved from my native Oklahoma to Kansas 8+ years ago, I would extol with pride Dr. Coburn and his self-limited approach to public service to any who would listen.

Indeed, the points of his political career that I would quibble with could even be said to be the result of him NOT being more of a politician.

That’s praising with a faint damn.

He is as decent a man as has ever occupied a seat in the senate, and I will remember him in my prayers.

questionmark on January 17, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Chris of Rights on January 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM

thatsafactjack on January 17, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Well, said, and thank you for it.

questionmark on January 17, 2014 at 10:18 AM

damn socons

davidk on January 17, 2014 at 10:33 AM

A more important question than who will fill Coburn’s Senate seat is who will assume his position in all of those bipartisan Gangs of X.

steebo77 on January 17, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Good luck Senator Coburn.

2Tru2Tru on January 17, 2014 at 11:16 AM

I’d love to see TW Shannon. JC was his mentor. He’s an excellent speaker.

dforston on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 AM

the current OK Speaker of The House, T.W. Shannon, is very impressive

commodore on January 17, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Agreed. I hope he runs.

GOPRanknFile on January 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM

I wish Sen. Coburn well..We will miss him in the Senate..:)

Dire Straits on January 17, 2014 at 1:07 PM

I like Tom Coburn. But he’ll be replaced by someone from Oklahoma, arguably the most conservative state.

This is not a blow against fiscal conservatism.

applebutter on January 17, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Coburn is a great man and Senator. He was one of the few who genuinely tried to make things work. I think that he gave in too much to the Democrats, but at least he was earnest in trying to find solutions. Unlike the Democrats or the Republicans who are only interested in maintaining their own power and use our problems for political gain – and, therefore, have no interest in solving any problems.

besser tot als rot on January 17, 2014 at 2:02 PM