Tom Coburn caused fear and loathing among the establishment on Capitol Hill

You could say Coburn was Tea Party before the Tea Party.

And Coburn justified most of the fears of the appropriators and their business clients. Coburn, together with Jim DeMint, waged a long war to ban earmarks, parading out absurd examples such as Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere and Iowa’s indoor rainforest. Coburn would embarrass his colleagues by offering amendments to strip out earmarks and use the money for sympathetic causes, such as Hurricane Katrina relief.

Through his six years in the House and nine in the Senate, Coburn has made an effort not to go native. When I interviewed him in 2009, he spoke of “holding the office with an open hand.”

Now, with his health situation altering his priorities and abilities, Coburn is ready to let go of his Senate seat. And even in resigning, he’ll distinguish himself from the typical Beltway creatures:

Coburn’s predecessor now runs an $8-million-a-year lobbying firm, the Nickles Group.

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