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Ex-Senator Liked to Beat 'My Head Against a Wall'

Former US Sen. Tom Coburn has died at 72
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 28, 2020 12:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Former US Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma family doctor who earned a reputation as a conservative political maverick as he railed against federal earmarks and subsidies for the rich, has died, the AP reports. He was 72. Coburn, who also delivered more than 4,000 babies while an obstetrician in Muskogee, where he treated patients for free while in the Senate, died early Saturday morning, his cousin Bob Coburn told the AP in a text message. Tom Coburn was diagnosed with prostate cancer years earlier. Known for bluntly speaking his mind, Coburn, a Republican, frequently criticized the growth of the federal deficit and what he said was excessive government spending endorsed by both political parties.

"I've got a flat forehead from beating my head against the wall," he told voters during a town hall in July 2010. First elected to the US House during the so-called Republican Revolution in 1994, Coburn fiercely criticized the use of federal money for special state projects. He represented northeastern Oklahoma for three terms, keeping a pledge in 2000 not to seek re-election. He returned to his medical practice in Muskogee before asking voters to send him back to Washington, this time to the Senate, so he could fight big spenders and ensure "that our children and grandchildren have a future." He served in the Senate until 2016, leaving after promising not to seek a third term. US Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, called Coburn "an inspiration to many."

(Read more obituary stories.)

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