100 People to Watch This Fall : Page 61 of 102


Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) 

Coburn may be the best Republican lawmaker to challenge the ObamaCare defunding movement. The second-term Oklahoma senator has sterling credentials on the right but has strongly criticized Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others who are prepared to force a government shutdown in order to kill the law. He says the strategy won’t work and could become a public relations nightmare for Republicans if the government stops running.

Coburn has also accused the senators and their supporters of bullying those who disagree. 

In these criticisms, he joins a growing group of Republicans concerned about the party’s standing if the shutdown threat becomes reality in September. GOP strategist Karl Rove, columnist Charles Krauthammer and several establishment GOP senators have voiced similar worries. 

The conflict will come to a head after the August recess. In the meantime, Coburn, who witnessed the 1995 and 1996 government shutdowns, is unequivocal in his opposition. 

“The strategy that has been laid out is a good way for Republicans to lose the House,” he recently told The Washington Examiner. 

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