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Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren prepares for life after Congress, if Congress will let him go

State’s only Democrat in Congress talks about ‘fiscal cliff,’ the Oklahoma Democratic Party and the possibility of running for governor

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Published: December 16, 2012
/articleid/3737960/1/pictures/1908342">Photo - U.S. Rep Dan Boren The Muskogee Democrat announced in June he was not seeking re-election.
U.S. Rep Dan Boren The Muskogee Democrat announced in June he was not seeking re-election.

“I think things have become much more nationalized, so you can’t run as a local Democrat, as I did, as an Oklahoma Democrat,” Boren said. “You get so tied to national figures. But I do think Oklahoma has room for a Democratic Party, and I think it would be healthy for Oklahoma to have, really, a two-party system so that there is this compromise.”

Boren said a Democrat could still be elected statewide, “but they’ll have to be the right fit for the state.”

He might be the Democrat to test that theory. He said he won’t challenge Gov. Mary Fallin in 2014, but he said a future race is a 50-50 proposition.

“I think governor is the only thing I would ever consider doing and it may not ever be the right time — for the kids and then for the political situation,” he said.

Boren had nearly $700,000 in his campaign account at the end of September, and he could not use that money for a race for state office. He said he had recently donated $150,000 to Seminole State College for a building that will house student government offices. And he gave $25,000 to the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma for a scholarship fund.

Boren’s next job will be president of corporate development for the Chickasaw Nation. He and his family are looking to relocate to the Oklahoma City area.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, a member of the tribe, said, “Dan Boren has served his district and our state with great integrity and skill. I will miss him as a colleague but certainly intend to keep him as a friend. I have no doubt he will continue to make positive contributions to Oklahoma and the country in the years ahead.”

Boren will leave Washington in agreement with those who think Congress is broken. But he won’t leave cynical or pessimistic about it.

“I think it’s broken, but I think it’s fixable,” he said.

“Both parties are electing people that are way out on the left and right flanks, and there’s no incentive for them to compromise. So if we’re going to solve these huge challenges — whether they are fiscal problems or other problems — we can’t do it when there’s no incentive for people to work together and to give a little bit.”

“You can be callous and mad and say, ‘This place is totally bad,’” he said. “But the experience has been great. I think I’ve grown as a person, hopefully.”

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