Tom Coburn : biography
Thomas Allen "Tom" Coburn (born March 14, 1948) is a United States Senator, medical doctor and Southern Baptist deacon. A member of the Republican Party, he is the junior senator from Oklahoma.
Coburn was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 as part of the Republican Revolution. He upheld his campaign pledge to serve no more than three consecutive terms and did not run for re-election in 2000. In 2004, he returned to political office with a successful run for the U.S. Senate. Coburn was re-elected to a second term in 2010 and has pledged not to seek a third term in 2016.
Coburn is a fiscal and social conservative, known for his opposition to deficit spending and pork barrel projects and for his leadership in the pro-life movement. He supports term limits, gun rights and the death penalty and opposes gay marriage. In the Senate, he is known as "Dr. No" for his tendency to place holds on and vote against bills he views as unconstitutional.
In 1994, Coburn ran for the House of Representatives in Oklahoma's Democratic 2nd Congressional District, which was based in Muskogee and included 22 counties in northeastern Oklahoma. Coburn initially expected to face eight-term incumbent Mike Synar. However, Synar was defeated in a runoff for the Democratic nomination by a 71-year-old retired principal, Virgil Cooper. According to Coburn's 2003 book, Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders, Coburn and Cooper got along well, since both were opposed to the more liberal Synar. The general election was cordial, since both men knew that Synar would not return to Washington regardless of the outcome. Coburn won by a 52%–48% margin, becoming the first Republican to represent the district since 1921.
Coburn was one of the most conservative members of the House. He supported "reducing the size of the federal budget," wanted to make abortion illegal and supported the proposed television V-chip legislation.
Despite representing a heavily Democratic district and President Bill Clinton's electoral dominance therein, Coburn was easily reelected in 1996, as well as in 1998.
In the House, Coburn earned a reputation as a political maverick due to his frequent battles with House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Most of these stand-offs stemmed from his belief that the Republican caucus was moving toward the political center and away from the more conservative Contract With America policy proposals that had brought the Republicans into power in Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years.
Coburn endorsed conservative activist and former diplomat Alan Keyes in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries. Coburn retired from Congress in 2001, fulfilling his pledge to serve no more than three terms in the House. His congressional district returned to the Democratic fold, as attorney Brad Carson easily defeated a Republican endorsed by Coburn. After leaving the House and returning to private medical practice, Coburn wrote Breach of Trust, with ghostwriter John Hart, about his experiences in Congress. The book detailed Coburn's perspective on the internal Republican Party debates over the Contract With America and displayed his disdain for career politicians. Some of the figures he criticized (such as Gingrich) were already out of office at the time of the book's publishing, but others (such as former House Speaker Dennis Hastert) remained influential in Congress, which resulted in speculation that some congressional Republicans wanted no part of Coburn's return to politics.
During his tenure in the House, Coburn wrote and passed far-reaching legislation. These include laws to expand seniors' health care options, to protect access to home health care in rural areas and to allow Americans to access cheaper medications from Canada and other nations. Coburn also wrote a law intended to prevent the spread of AIDS to infants. The Wall Street Journal said about the law, "In 10 long years of AIDS politics and funding, this is actually the first legislation to pass in this country that will rescue babies." He also wrote a law to renew and reform federal AIDS care programs. In 2002, President George W. Bush chose Coburn to serve as co-chair of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
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