Outgoing Oklahoma representatives begin to transition out of office
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Monday, November 26, 2012
11/26/12 at 7:38 AM
Dan Boren sounds happy about leaving Congress.
John Sullivan sounds philosophical.
Sullivan, a Republican, and Boren, a Democrat, are in their final weeks of representing eastern Oklahoma in the U.S. House of Representatives. Boren decided four terms were enough for him and did not seek re-election from the 2nd District.
Sullivan was defeated in the Republican primary after more than five terms representing the 1st District.
"Losing is never fun," said Sullivan, "but I didn't plan on being in Congress all my life. I think it was time for me to do something else."
Professionally, that something else has not been determined. Personally, Sullivan says he's looking forward to spending less time on airplanes and at fundraisers and more time with his wife, his four children and the friends he has seen too little of the past 11 years.
"I don't mean this in a bad way, but it's an abnormal life being in Congress," he said. "It's a little bit here in the community, it's a little bit in Washington, and you're never in one place very long.
"The demands of fundraising," Sullivan said, are "turning Congress into something where you have to be a telemarketer almost."
Sullivan was in Washington last week while the House and Senate organized for next session and prepared for what promises to be an epic struggle to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff - a combination of tax increases and spending cuts many predict are too much for the weak economy to handle.
"One of the things I noticed was the reluctance to do anything," said Sullivan. "It's very important in the lame duck session we do something to show good faith ... (but) the Republicans are analyzing the election and they're scared. The Democrats feel bolstered."
Because Sullivan and Boren aren't returning, they are being eased out of their offices to make room for new representatives.
"It is a strange feeling," said Sullivan. "You're sitting in your office working while at the same time you're packing up."
Boren missed the past week because of illness, but plans to go back on Tuesday. When asked if he felt as though he were being pushed aside, he said, "Not really. I feel like a weight has been lifted from me.
"The last three months have been phenomenal. I've been able ... to spend more time at home. I have all my Christmas shopping done. I've gone to some things in the district, said goodbye and thank you.
"It's been really foreign to me because I've had ... every 15-minute increment or 30-minute increment filled up."
Boren acknowledged he's likely to be back on a similarly regimented schedule after Jan. 3, when he becomes president of corporate development for the Chickasaw Nation. Boren said the job grew out of his work on Indian issues with Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby.
"I was looking for something where I could still be home in Oklahoma, see my kids grow up and feel like I was getting something accomplished," Boren said.
Boren said he became increasingly frustrated in Congress.
"At the end there, in Congress, it felt like, 'You're working really hard but what are you actually getting done?'
"I would consider myself a conservative Democrat or a moderate in general, and in a situation like that you don't make anybody happy. I think that's where most people are, but it's not where the energy is. I don't think people right now want moderation.
"They say they want us to work together, but they are sending people - I'm not saying this about Oklahoma, but in general - to Washington who do not seek compromise."
Original Print Headline: Outgoing politicians begin to wind down
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365