Sen. Tom Coburn to Step Down Early

Health isn't the only reason, he says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2014 12:34 AM CST
Sen. Tom Coburn to Step Down Early
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime deficit hawk, outlines his annual "Wastebook," which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

One of the Senate's most conservative Republicans is retiring early—and Tom Coburn says his health problems aren't the only reason. The 65-year-old Oklahoman, a family doctor who earned the nickname "Dr. No" for his firm opposition to all spending he deemed wasteful, says the unhealthy, gridlocked state of the chamber is as much a factor as the recurrence of the prostate cancer he has been fighting for years, the Washington Post reports. He had already said he wouldn't seek another term and now plans to step down at the end of this year, two years before his current term ends.

"This decision isn’t about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires," he says. "As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere." Earlier this month, Coburn—who has also battled melanoma and colon cancer—told Politico that he still felt strong and worked longer hours than many staffers half his age. "My health is good, as far as endurance," he said. "Probably people should judge my mental health rather than my physical health on why you want to be here." (More Tom Coburn stories.)

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