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Sen. Tom Coburn, who has spent a combined 15 years here rooting out government waste and warning about mounting U.S. debt, will resign after the current session of Congress, foregoing the final two years of his term.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, has been battling a recurrence of prostate cancer but said he wasn’t leaving early because of his health.

In a brief interview, Coburn said he wanted to focus on the next stage in his life.

“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.”

“I’ve had a lot of changes in my life,’’ Coburn, 65, said. “This is another one.”

In a prepared statement, he said, “My commitment to the people of Oklahoma has always been that I would serve no more than two terms Our founders saw public service and politics as a calling rather than a career.

“That’s how I saw it when I first ran for office in 1994, and that’s how I still see it today. I believe it’s important to live under the laws I helped write, and even those I fought hard to block.” Coburn’s decision could set off a major scramble among Republicans hoping to replace him. U.S. Reps. Tom Cole, R-Moore; James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City; and Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, will likely consider the race, along with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Coburn timed his resignation so his replacement could be elected during the regular ballot process this year. It will be a very compressed time frame for a statewide race, particularly for those who don’t have statewide name recognition.

Both U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot in Oklahoma; U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is running for reelection.

Coburn had limited himself to two terms in the Senate, so he would have been retiring in 2016.
A physician, Coburn won a U.S. House seat in 1994 and served through 2010, leaving because he had limited himself to three terms there.

He ran for the Senate in 2004, entering the race relatively late, but he still easily beat the Republican field and then defeated former U.S. Rep. Brad Carson in the general election. Source: News OK  Coburn is a good man and an excellent public servant. I pray he has a speedy recovery!

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