The New Ledger has learned that Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn will announce next week that he has decided to run for re-election in 2010.
“He’s decided to run again,” an Oklahoma supporter close to Coburn told TNL. “He’s invested in having an impact on health care, on judicial nominees, on holding the line on some critically important issues and legislation. He still doesn’t like Washington, but he believes he needs to stay there for now.”
Coburn continues to be a unique voice in the Senate, an outspoken foe of pork spending and government expansion, and he remains one of the Chamber’s most prominent pro-lifers — and since he’s a member of the Judiciary Committee, he’ll be given the opportunity to question Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor extensively on the subject. His nicknames — Dr. No, Senator Trainwreck — are tributes to his stubborn ability to deploy the tools of the Senate to frustrate his political opponents, as he did most recently with an amendment to allow guns to be carried in National Parks.
While many conservatives were concerned that Coburn’s time in Washington was coming to a close after just one term given his lack of fundraising (he had less than $60,000 on hand at the beginning of the year) and public comments indicating he was questioning whether serving in the Senate was “the best way I can make a difference,” he has apparently changed his mind in recent months.
Coburn recently introduced a comprehensive health care plan which aims to achieve many of the goals set by Obama’s — including a massive reduction in the number of uninsured Americans — according to him, at lower costs, with a minimum of higher taxation, and in ways that avoid the prospect of government rationing. Coburn, a medical doctor who continues to deliver babies in Oklahoma while serving in the Senate, has said that President Obama’s still vague health care plans will devastate seniors, telling Newsmax: “the ultimate result of every government-run healthcare plan around the world is rationing. Where does most of the expenses come from? From our senior citizens. Where will we make most of the cuts? Most of the cuts will come from our payments for those senior citizens.”
Earlier this year, more than one of Coburn’s closest friends and political supporters worried that he had decided against running again. As one supporter close to Coburn said at the time:
“Politics has never been Tom’s first love…He does it because he feels called to do it, not because he likes doing it. He’d much rather be back here delivering babies than dealing with his fellow Senators. And when he leaves D.C., which I really think he might next year, he’s going to leave without any regrets.”
While it may still not be Coburn’s first love, his decision to remain in politics has to come with a certain amount of relief not just for his conservative fans, but for Republican leaders — particularly NRSC Chair John Cornyn, who is already having to find replacements for retiring members in several key elections.