Senator Tom Coburn has announced he will resign his seat in Congress at the end of the current legislative session.
The 65-year-old conservative senator said he plans to finish the current year in office and resign his seat nearly two years before his term is scheduled to end in 2016.
Oklahoma’s Republicans will quickly start jockeying for the chance to take over his seat. The replacement will be elected in the normal 2014 cycle–a short time frame for candidates, especially those who may not have high name-recognition or fundraising abilities. U.S. Reps. Tom Cole, James Lankford, and Jim Bridenstine are considered likely to run; so is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Coburn recently announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but said the decision was not about his health.
“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,” read the statement. “Our founders saw public service and politics as a calling rather than a career.”
“Serving as Oklahoma’s senator has been, and continues to be, one of the great privileges and blessings of my life. But, after much prayer and consideration, I have decided that I will leave my Senate seat at the end of this Congress,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement.
The senator touted his commitment to public service and said it was a worthwhile calling, despite the vitriol and gridlock of recent years.
“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. After all, how else could a country doctor from Muskogee with no political experience make it to Washington?”
“As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere,” the senator wrote. ”In the meantime, I look forward to finishing this year strong.”