Rep. Dan Boren will not seek reelection from his conservative Oklahoma district, a move considered to be a serious blow to efforts by his fellow Democrats to retake control of the House of Representatives in 2012.
The retirement was first reported by the Oklahoman newspaper and quickly confirmed by other media outlets. Boren, who will be 38 years old this summer, is scheduled to formally announce his decision at a news conference on Tuesday in his hometown of Muskogee.
Boren becomes the first member of the House in this election cycle to announce he will retire rather than seek another office.
Democrats had high hopes for 2012 after they captured a recent special election in upstate New York, running against Republican proposals to change Medicare, the health plan for the elderly, and Medicaid, the health program to aid the poor. The battle over Medicare will likely be the centerpiece of numerous congressional campaigns in 2012, as well as for the presidency.
Boren comes from political royalty in Oklahoma. His grandfather was a congressman and his father a former governor and senator.
Boren won the district in 2004 when Rep. Brad Carson unsuccessfully ran for the Senate. Carson is considered a potential candidate to run again for the seat.
During his tenure, Boren has been a strong conservative voice in a party that generally leans the other way. He was a player in the Blue Dog coalition, the Democrats’ conservative caucus. He voted with the GOP to repeal President Obama’s healthcare overhaul bill. Boren was also publicly critical of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s decision to become minority leader this year after the GOP won control of the House and she lost the speakership.
The Oklahoma district is considered to be among the nation’s most conservative. The district gave 66% of its vote to John McCain in 2008. Despite that strong tilt to the Republicans, Boren has handily won election, garnering 70% of the vote in 2008 and 56% in 2010.