Sixth District Congressman Howard Coble said today he hasn't decided whether to run for a fifteenth term.
He says two factors will influence the decision, which will have to be made within the next three months. One is his health, the official topic of his press conference this afternoon in Greensboro.
The 80-year-old Republican was admitted to George Washington Hospital in DC on December 13th with an upper respiratory infection that led to a severe sodium imbalance. He was transferred to Moses Cone Hospital about a week ago, and was released yesterday.
Coble thanked both hospitals for their care. "It’s great to be home," he said. “I feel good.”
He said his recovery is progressing faster than doctors had expected, but said he'd have a better sense of his health in a week or two.
"If I feel I’m not up to it, I’m not gonna seek re-election just for the sake of seeking re-election,” Coble said. “But if the decision was today, I’d be leaning toward re-election."
The other factor, Coble said, is the new Congressional map drawn by legislative Republicans this year. It changes Coble's district almost wholesale, taking away four counties he now represents - Randolph, Moore, Davidson and Rowan - and adding eight new ones. (The new 6th still retains parts of Guilford and Alamance.)
Coble said four of the new counties - Surry, Stokes, Rockinghham, and Caswell - are in the Triad media market, so he would likely have some name recognition there. But the other four - Granville, Person, Durham, and Orange - are in the Triangle market, where he would have to start from scratch. And the new 6th would actually have fewer registered Republicans than the old 6th, though he says it's still ideologically conservative.
Coble said he would not make a decision until litigation over the 2012 map is settled. "Before I do anything, I want to have some degree of certainty how the new map is gonna look," he said. "If you’re going out to sea, you need the chart. And I’d like to have that available."
He said he’d received calls from “6 or 7” other Republicans, some of whom he didn't know, who voiced an interest in his seat. But he said they all told him they wouldn’t run if he decided to seek re-election. He said he hadn’t been pressured by party leaders, either.
“It’ll be my decision," Coble said.