Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., announced Thursday he will retire at the end of his term, creating an opening in his strong Republican district for the first time in 30 years.
Coble, who was first elected to North Carolina's 6th District in 1985, cited his failing health as the reason why he will step down. Earlier this year, the 82-year-old was rushed to George Washington University Hospital from the Capitol to
as the reason why he will step down. Earlier this year, the 82-year-old was rushed to George Washington University Hospital from the Capitol to undergo emergency hernia surgery.
Coble cited back pain and skin cancer as the main reasons for his retirement, saying his health would prohibit him from the long hours needed to campaign. But he stressed, "Mentally and emotionally I am stable and reliable," to the audience watching his announcement in Greensboro, N.C.
With his announcement, Coble becomes the second Republican to announce a retirement this week. On Wednesday, two-term GOP Rep. Jon Runyan said he would not seek re-election in 2014 in his competitive New Jersey seat.
While Runyan's retirement came as a surprise, Republicans have long speculated Coble could be looking to exit. Both his failing health and lackluster fundraising were
. Both his failing health and lackluster fundraising were surefire signs he was not planning to run in 2014.
As such, a number of Republicans have already announced bids for his Greensboro-centered seat. They include Baptist pastors Dan Collison and Bradley Walker, as well as veteran Don Webb.They include Baptist pastors Dan Collison and Bradley Walker, as well as veteran Don Webb.
Phil Berger Jr., the son of state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, is also likely to enter the contest. He had said he was waiting to run for the seat until Coble retired, according to the News Observer.
Other potential candidates include two NASCAR drivers. Kyle Petty, a North Carolina native who co-hosts "NASCAR RaceDay" and "NASCAR Trackside" on the Speed channel, is considering a bid, according to one national GOP operative. A local GOP operative added that semi-retired NASCAR driver Terry Labonte has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.
Local GOP operatives also said 6th District GOP Chairman AJ Daoud, who ran an unsuccessful bid for North Carolina secretary of state in 2012, and Nathan Tabor, who attempted to run for the 6th District in 2012 but missed the filing deadline, are eying bids.
Two Democrats have announced bids for the seat: Former University of North Carolina administrator Laura Fjeld, and Durham County Soil and Water Supervisor Danielle Adams.