Tulsa County Republicans react to Coburn's retirement

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Reported by: Tiffany Alaniz
Updated: 1/17 5:35 pm Published: 1/17 3:57 pm

Plans are in place for a special election to fill U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's seat.

FOX23's Tiffany Alaniz spoke with Tulsa Republicans and other state leaders. They shared their thoughts about Coburn's influence in the Senate and how he's served as a mentor for so many.

They said they were disappointed to hear about Coburn giving up his seat at the end of the current Congressional session, but said they have nothing but respect for the man who has done so much for Oklahoma politics.

County Republican leaders told FOX23 they will pull together to move the party forward.

"I don't know anyone in the state that doesn't have tremendous respect for Dr. Coburn. He is a giant in the Senate," said U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla.

Aside from his impact on Washington, Lankford told FOX23 that Coburn also helped him personally.

"For me coming in to the House just three years ago, he's one of the people I called at the very beginning to say, 'Dr. Coburn, when you came in to the House out of the private sector, just like I did, you made a difference right at the start. How did you do it?'" said Lankford.

State Republicans said Coburn's departure will leave a void.

"It will be tough to be able to watch that voice in the Senate go away at the end of the year," said Lankford.

FOX23 talked to Republican Party leaders in Tulsa about what comes next.

"There will be a lot of discussions going on, probably in both parties today are sitting down and considering their options. There will be exploratory committees formed quickly. I haven't heard from anyone yet. It's too soon, I suspect, but whoever that is, we will be in complete support when we come out of that process," said Mike McCutchin, Tulsa County Republican chair.

Republicans said they remain dedicated to the leadership and organization of the party and wish Coburn the best.

"I really think he's a tremendous senator, and we will miss his leadership," said McCutchin.

A special election has been set to fill Coburn’s seat with a primary set for June 24, a possible runoff Aug.26, and a general election Nov. 4.

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