Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has announced that he retire this year before the 2016 conclusion of his term. He has been battling prostate cancer.
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 has a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. During the health care reform battle in 2009, Coburn suggested praying that the bill’s Senate supporters be unable to attend the vote. Some interpreted that remark as a wish for accidents or illness.
UPDATE: Gawker has posted a recap of “godawful things said by Coburn.” Here’s one from the list: “Lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that’s happened to us?”