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Dr. Tom Coburn, the fiscal conservative Senator from Oklahoma, announced Thursday that he is going to retire from the Senate after nine years in office.
Coburn, a Republican, has been battling cancer, although, in his statement, the 65-year-old said that the decision was made not solely because of his health.
“Carolyn and I have been touched by the encouragement we’ve received from people across the state regarding my latest battle against cancer,” Coburn said. “But this decision isn’t about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires. 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.”
As a doctor, Coburn specialized in obstetrics, notes CNN. He began his political career in 1995, when he began serving in the House of Representatives. He served until 2001 and in 2004, he won his first term as Senator for Oklahoma. In 2010, he was re-elected to another six-year term. With his retirement though, he will not finish the last two years of the term.
“As dysfunctional as Washington is these days, change is still possible when ‘We the People’ get engaged, run for office themselves or make their voices heard,” Coburn noted. “After all, how else could a country doctor from Muskogee with no political experience make it to Washington?”
Coburn’s decision is surprising, as he recently told Politico that he could serve out the rest of his term. “The decision I make will be made in conjunction with my family as to how I can best implement and impact things. And if I don’t think I can, I won’t,” he said at the time.
The Washington Post notes that Coburn did not vote on the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill Thursday.
image: Wikimedia Commons