U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) — the self-styled “country doctor from Muskogee” — will leave the Senate due to health and other concerns after serving out the remainder of the current session, he announced in a statement Thursday.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Coburn has served in the Senate since 2005. He was re-elected for a second term in 2010, but said he would not run for a third. Some observers believed that he would, but his battle with cancer — as well as his commitment to being a “citizen-legislator” averse to making a career of politics — has put paid to those speculations.
A medical doctor by training, Coburn insisted on being called “Doctor Coburn” instead of “Senator Coburn.” But he also earned another nickname in Washington circles: “Dr. No,” a reference to a James Bond villain but also to his penchant for putting brakes on legislation. Coburn was also known for his annual Wastebook, which listed what he considered to be examples of profligate government spending.
Despite Coburn’s party affiliation, he and President Barack Obama struck up a warm friendship. “The people of Oklahoma are lucky to have someone like Tom representing them in Washington — someone who speaks his mind, sticks to his principles and is committed to the people he was elected to serve,” Obama wrote of Coburn for the 2013 TIME 100.
Coburn’s statement on his retirement plans in full:
Jay Newton-Small and Zeke J. Miller contributed to this report