WASHINGTON — Rep. Dan Boren, the only Democrat in Oklahoma's seven-person congressional delegation, will not seek re-election in 2012, setting up what could be an intense partisan battle for a seat that spans much of eastern Oklahoma.
Boren, 37, made the announcement in his hometown of Muskogee, saying he would serve out the rest of his term.
Boren, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 2004, said in an interview that his decision was driven by the prospect of more “constant campaigning.” The “slog,” as he put it, almost led him to retire before the 2010 elections, and he decided months ago not to run for a fifth term.
With state Republicans looking to capture the only Democratic seat in the delegation, Boren said he knew he would have had a serious challenge next year.
“It wouldn't have been just a gimme election,” he said. “But I'm confident we would have been successful. It would have just been the constant slog.”
He said there was some sadness in his decision.
“I'm also very happy,” he said. “I'm going to see my kids more.”
Boren and his wife, Andrea, have two children: Janna Lou, who is 3, and Hunter, who is 8 months. Boren said he hadn't given much thought to what he will do when his term ends in early 2013, and that he hadn't ruled out running for office in the future.
“I'm open to doing something in the public or private sector,” said Boren, who served in the state House of Representatives before his election to Congress. “I want to live in Oklahoma.”
Voters in the 2nd District — which, because of redistricting changes, will include all or part of 26 eastern Oklahoma counties — may have a lot of candidates to choose from next year.
Boren's predecessor in the 2nd District seat, Democrat Brad Carson, said Tuesday that he plans to run for the seat.
Carson, 44, of Claremore, is now a business and law professor at the University of Tulsa. Carson gave up the House seat in 2004 to run for the U.S. Senate, but lost to Republican Tom Coburn.
Former state Sen. Kenneth Corn, a Poteau Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor last year, said he is very likely to run. State Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, is expected to launch an exploratory committee.
Matt Pinnell, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said Boren's announcement creates an opportunity for conservatives to “elect a Republican who will go to Washington and vote the Oklahoma way, not the Obama way.”