UPDATE: Election Set to Replace Retiring Sen. Coburn
Staff and Wire Reports
Gov. Mary Fallin says the special election to fill U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's seat in the Senate will be held on the same dates as Oklahoma's primary and general elections in 2014.
Fallin said Friday the election dates will include a June 24 primary, a potential runoff election on Aug. 26, and a general election on Nov. 4.
Coburn will be resigning from his seat, two years before the end of his term.
The 65-year-old Republican senator from Muskogee, issued a statement this evening announcing his retirement. Coburn stated that his decision was not made because of his latest battle against cancer.
In a statement, President Obama expressed his sadness in Coburn's early retirement and thanked the senator for his family's friendship.
"Tom and I entered the Senate at the same time, becoming friends after our wives struck up a conversation at an orientation dinner. And even though we haven't always agreed politically, we've found ways to work together - to make government more transparent, cut down on earmarks, and fight to reduce wasteful spending and make our tax system fairer," Obama said in the statement. "The people of Oklahoma have been well-served by this "country doctor from Muskogee" over the past nine years, and I'm confident that Tom's strength and optimism will carry him through the battles to come."
Coburn will finish the current congressional session, which ends in Jan. 2015.
The timing of the election is significant because any statewide elected officeholder or member of the U.S. House who runs for the seat will have to vacate their current post to become a candidate.
The entire statement is listed below.
"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.
"Carolyn and I have been touched by the encouragement we've received from people across the state regarding my latest battle against cancer. 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. That's how I saw it when I first ran for office in 1994, and that's how I still see it today. I believe it's important to live under the laws I helped write, and even those I fought hard to block.
"As a citizen legislator, I am first and foremost a citizen who cares deeply about the kind of country we leave our children and grandchildren. As I have traveled across Oklahoma and our nation these past nine years, I have yet to meet a parent or grandparent who wouldn't do anything within their power to secure the future for the next generation. That's why I initially ran for office in 1994 and re-entered politics in 2004. I'm encouraged there are thousands of Americans with real-world experience and good judgment who feel just like I do. 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. In the meantime, I look forward to finishing this year strong. I intend to continue our fight for Oklahoma, and will do everything in my power to force the Senate to re-embrace its heritage of debate, deliberation and consensus as we face our many challenges ahead."
"My God bless you, our state and our country."