Fellow lawmakers and government leaders are reacting to Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's announcement Thursday that he will resign at the end of the current session of Congress, nearly two years before his term is scheduled to end.
Governor Mary Fallin's office says Coburn's retirement triggers a special election for his seat. In a news release, Governor Fallin said the special election will be held on the same dates as Oklahoma's regularly scheduled elections.
The primary will be June 24; a potential runoff election would be held on August 26; and the general election will occur on November 4.
Fellow Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe issued the following statement Friday:
"I was honored to help recruit Tom in 1993 to run for the House of Representatives. I knew then that he was an intellectual and superb medical doctor. As we worked together, I came to learn he also had the skills that made him arguably the most sought after advisor in the Republican conference. In every policy decision, Tom has sought to be a faithful steward of the taxpayers' money and a dedicated public servant to Oklahoma. He is a true brother in the Lord and my prayers are with him and his family in this time."
Coburn says the decision comes just months after the two-term Republican senator was diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer, but the 65-year-old said in a statement late Thursday that his health wasn't the reason.
Governor Mary Fallin released the following statement regarding Coburn's retirement:
"Doctor Tom Coburn has represented the ‘Gold Standard' for smart and tough fiscal conservatism since he began serving in the United States Congress in 1995. He is a true hero of the American Taxpayer and one of the most influential voices in American politics today.
His consistent, relentless advocacy for responsible spending and deficit reduction has earned him respect from men and women on both sides of the aisle. Agree with him or not, there is never any doubt where Tom Coburn stands on the issues.
He is as impressive a public servant as they come, and I am sure we have not heard the last from him. While I am sorry to see the Senate lose one of this country's great statesmen, I am happy that Tom can now spend more time with his family and focus on other opportunities."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement Thursday describing Coburn as "one of the most intelligent, principled and decent men in modern Senate history."
"When it comes to the transcendent debate over the size and cost of government, Tom Coburn is simply without peer. No one has done more to awaken Americans to the threat posed by a government that chronically spends more than it takes in, and no one has worked harder at finding a solution."
Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin made the following statement:
"Our sincere appreciation goes out to Dr. Coburn for his years of service and unwavering dedication to this country. A true public servant, he will be missed in our delegation and in Washington, D.C. It has been an honor to work alongside Dr. Coburn, and I thank him for his service."
Coburn's resignation is certain to draw the interest of ambitious Republicans in Oklahoma, and the GOP will be heavily favored to retain control of the seat. Among the Republicans mentioned as possible contenders are U.S. Representatives Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, Jim Bridenstine and James Lankford, along with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Associated Press contributed to this story.