Dan Boren’s departure from Congress sets stage for a competitive election

U.S. Rep. Dan Boren of Muskogee, a Democrat, came home to announce on Tuesday (June 7) he will not seek reelection in 2012. 

In an email exchange after his announcement, Boren told CapitolBeatOK, the most gratifying of his congressional career thus far “hasn’t been the legislation we’ve passed.  It has been the number of people that we’ve helped with casework — especially the veterans who have needed assistance.  Casework is all too often overlooked and it is a critical factor in a Representative’s role as an ombudsman on behalf of constituents who are dealing with the federal government.”

He said his priorities in the remaining 18 months of his time in Congress will focus on “Energy legislation, including the Nat Gas Act.  And, legislative work on Native American issues as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Indian Affairs. 

CapitolBeatOK asked Boren to share any reflection that might not have been conveyed in the initial news coverage (worldwide and nationwide) of his decision to leave after four terms in office. 

He replied, “”This is not necessarily the end of my political career.  I would certainly look at something again in the long-term future.  I am not pessimistic about community service.”

Boren’s announcement in early afternoon dominated political news coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The Reuters News Service reported Boren commented he was tired of the constant travel and fundraising requirements in modern congressional campaigns. He indicated that although he would like to be governor of Oklahoma, he will not oppose Governor Mary Fallin.  

Boren is a moderate Democrat with conservative leanings. He has often opposed the Obama administration on economic policy and other matters, including the controversial federal health care law enacted last year. He is a strong supporter of the oil and gas business, one of Oklahoma’s heritage industries. Additionally, he is classified as a pro-life Democrat. His departure is certain to provoke a wide open election as several individuals seek to replace him. 

Democrats likely to run include former U.S. Rep. Brad Carson and former state Sen. Kenneth Corn, the party’s unsuccessful nominee for lieutenant governor in 2004. Republican State Rep. George Faught may run. 

In an interview last year, Boren told CapitolBeatOK, “I have taken Oklahoma ideas to Washington, not Washington ideas to Oklahoma. I am proud to be an independent voice.”

He is the first member of the U.S. House of Representatives to announce he will not seek reelection. His departure is likely to complicate hopes for Democrats to regain control of the House. 

Boren is married and has two children. He said he intends to remain in Oklahoma, working in either the public or private sector. 

His father, David Boren, is president of the University of Oklahoma, a former U.S. Senator and former governor of the Sooner State. His grandfather was Lyle Boren, a U.S. representative.