His reasoning for retiring early has to due with battling reoccurring cancer. It'll be after midterms meaning there'll be a special election scheduled for that time. Likely Republican candidates could be Reps. Tom Cole, James Lankford and my own Jim Bridenstine. And this is on top of other high profile statewide offices up like the Governorship and the Senate seat held by Jim Inhofe. Speaking of the Governorship, former State Senator Randy Brogdon who's running for Governor a 2nd time mite decide to forego that and run for Senate instead. If I had to make my pick for a candidate to replace Coburn, J.C. Watts comes to mind or even House Speaker T.W. Shannon.
As an Oklahoman, I've always believed Tom Coburn to be of and for the people. I disagreed with his stance on the Obamacare shutdown, but that's a blip on the radar compared to many terrific things he's done in his time in Senate and in the House as well. He's one of the few who willingly term limits himself in a Congress where many of the people around were elected 10-15 years before I was born (I turned 20 this Wednesday). So it's always appreciated to have some principled people in there. I hope the next person elected will share and fight for those same principles. Cause we need more people like that right now.
*Update: Turns out it wasn't his health specifically that caused his decision to leave early. Apologies for that mistake.
**Update: Candidates not running: Reps. Jim Bridenstine, Markwayne Mullin, Tom Cole and Frank Lucas. Makes sense why they aren't. Bridenstine and Mullin are freshmen and will likely wait a few years before seeking higher office like maybe the governorship in 2018 or the Senate in 2020 when more than likely Inhofe will hang up his struts for good (personally I think he should go ahead do so since he'll be 80 after the midterms are done). Cole is one of the assistant Republican whips in the House and a reliable Boehnerite (a John McCain clone basically). Frank Lucas is chairman of the House Agricultural Committee (doubt he can appeal outside his district). With all of them out, that only leaves district 5 Representative James Lankford who first won his seat back in 2010 when Mary Fallin vacated it to get elected Governor.
According to Newsmax (http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/Lankford-Coburn-Oklahoma-Senate/2014/01/20/id/547938), he's considered a favorite to win the primary to succeed Tom Coburn. Governor Fallin has already set up a special election to concur with the general midterms (why didn't Chris Christie do the same in New Jersey as opposed to scheduling it two weeks ahead?). I'm really hoping J.C. Watts decides to get out of his decade long hiatus from politics and run to succeed Coburn. I really T.W. Shannon as well, though I'd think he'll wait to either run for House once Cole finally retires (Lawton lies right in the 4th district) or run for Governor in 2018 when he'll be term-limited out of the State House anyway. And who knows, Randy Brogdon who's running against Fallin for the Governor's Mansion right now may decide a Senate run is more viable for the time being.
Ultimately even if it doesn't happen, my subject of an endorsement for Senate is J.C. Watts. He's the man needed to carry on Tom Coburn's legacy of advocating fiscal sanity and principled politics. Very hard to tell what's going to happen in the coming months so best to sit back and watch. This'll be my second round of voting in a major national election and my first time in voting for both U.S. Senate seats. I'll keep more updates posted as the months go on.