Former Republican senator Tom Coburn dies aged 72

Martin Pengelly
<span>Photograph: REX/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

The former Republican senator Tom Coburn has died at 72, according to a newspaper in his native Oklahoma.

Related: US coronavirus live: Trump attacks 'lamestream media' as number of cases passes 100,000

The Oklahoman published a statement from the senator’s family and said he died after “a long fight with prostate cancer”. Coburn, the paper said, "served in the Senate from 2005 to 2015 and in the US House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001. After leaving the Senate, he pushed for a constitutional convention and advocated for a range of conservative fiscal causes.”

Mike Pence, the vice-president, wrote on Twitter: “Tom Coburn was a great conservative voice in the United States Congress and American physician whose legacy will live on. Karen and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family during this tough time.”

Coburn was a doctor who resigned his Senate seat following his cancer diagnosis.

“This decision isn’t about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires,” he said then. “As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere.”

One such effort was in support of rightwing efforts to call a Constitutional Convention, in an attempt to dramatically restrict the powers of the US federal government.

“We’re in a battle for the future of our country,” Coburn told the annual convention of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) in New Orleans in August 2018. “We’re either going to become a socialist, Marxist country like western Europe, or we’re going to be free. As far as me and my family and my guns, I’m going to be free.”