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Republican

Rep. Howard Coble (R)

Howard Coble Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-3065

Address: 2188 RHOB, DC 20515

Websites: coble.house.gov
Howard Coble Committees
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Howard Coble Biography
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  • Elected: 1984, 15th term.
  • District: North Carolina 6
  • Born: Mar. 18, 1931, Greensboro
  • Home: Greensboro
  • Education:

    Appalachian St. U., 1949-50, Guilford Col., B.A. 1958, U. of NC, J.D. 1962

  • Professional Career:

    Claims rep., State Farm Ins., 1961-67; Asst. Guilford Cnty. atty., 1967-69; Asst. U.S. atty., NC Middle Dist., 1969–73; Secy., NC Dept. of Revenue, 1973–77; Practicing atty., 1979–83.

  • Military Career:

    Coast Guard, 1952–56, 1977–78, Coast Guard Reserve, 1960–81.

  • Political Career:

    NC House of Reps., 1968–70, 1978–84.

  • Religion:

    Presbyterian

  • Family: Single

Republican Howard Coble, first elected in 1984, is older and far more independent-minded than most of his House GOP colleagues. He has been unable to secure a committee chairmanship despite his considerable seniority, and is serving his last term in Congress. He announced on November 7, 2013 he would not seek reelection, telling a news conference at the Guilford County Republican Party headquarters in Greensboro that his back ailments and skin cancer were factors in his decision. Read More

Republican Howard Coble, first elected in 1984, is older and far more independent-minded than most of his House GOP colleagues. He has been unable to secure a committee chairmanship despite his considerable seniority, and is serving his last term in Congress. He announced on November 7, 2013 he would not seek reelection, telling a news conference at the Guilford County Republican Party headquarters in Greensboro that his back ailments and skin cancer were factors in his decision.

Coble grew up in Guilford County and went to Guilford College. After wrecking his father’s car, he fled to the Coast Guard, where he started off collecting garbage and served for five years. He was an insurance claims representative, went to law school, and became an assistant U.S. attorney and the state revenue commissioner. He served in the state House for eight years.

Coble was elected to Congress in what was then a swing district. It was the third time the 6th District had changed parties in three elections. Coble won reelection in 1986 by just 79 votes, in a contest that Democrats complained was decided by the Guilford County election board’s refusal to hold a recount. But his personal popularity and subsequent redistrictings have made his a safe seat.

A lifelong bachelor and a friendly man who asks visitors if they mind if he smokes his cheap cigars, Coble is also a true product of his district. He likes bluegrass music (he presented his friend, bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, with a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 2008) and eats pork brains and eggs for breakfast.

His voting record is mostly conservative, with interesting twists. He was among the first to join the House Tea Party Caucus in 2010, but he was the only House Republican from North Carolina to support the New Year’s Day 2013 deal on tax and spending legislation aimed at averting a so-called fiscal cliff. “You don’t see a lot of perfect pieces of legislation coming through these halls,” he told The News & Record of Greensboro afterward. “It seems to me when both sides are complaining ... maybe we did the right thing.” He is tightfisted, and since his first term, he has tried to pass legislation to abolish pensions and health coverage for congressional retirees, which he calls “a taxpayer rip-off.” He didn’t find many cosponsors and, in 2012, announced that he instead would seek to lengthen the time before members become eligible from five years to 12.

Like many of his constituents, Coble is leery of free trade. Although he voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, he has opposed subsequent trade initiatives, including normalizing trade relations with China and the 2005 Central America Free Trade Agreement. He worked with other North Carolina lawmakers to get into law a tariff reduction bill in 2010 aimed at the Glen Raven textile mill in Warren County. The Raleigh News & Observer later reported that Glen Raven’s president had given Coble more than $7,000 since 2007, including $2,000 two weeks after he first introduced the legislation. Coble responded that there was no link between the donations and his legislation. He and North Carolina Democrat David Price introduced a bill in 2011 to create a competitive grant program at the Commerce Department for universities and non-profit organizations working on new textile-related technologies.

“I see my role more as one of keeping bad legislation off the books,” Coble once said. Still, he has been legislatively productive on the Judiciary Committee, especially in the area of intellectual property. In the 112th Congress (2011-12), he became the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law; its focus was reconstituted in 2012 to cover intellectual property. (In 1997, Coble was in line to be the ranking Republican on the full committee, but GOP leaders instead gave the post to Lamar Smith of Texas, a more prolific party fundraiser.)

Coble says that industries that depend on copyrights produce more gross domestic product than does manufacturing, and he has supported greater protection for intellectual property. When the Bush administration sought budget cuts from the Patent and Trademark Office, Coble told the appropriators to “keep their grubby paws out of the PTO’s coffers.” In 2002, he shepherded the enactment of additional changes in the patent law, including the development of an electronic system for the filing and processing of patent and trademark applications.

Despite his own limitations in operating a computer, Coble is a cheerleader for the digital revolution. In 2004, the Judiciary Committee approved his bill to protect commercial databases from piracy. In 2012, he was able to attach an amendment to the reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration enabling musicians to carry most of their instruments onto airplanes, which earned him the gratitude of the music business.

In July 2008, Coble broke James Broyhill’s record for the longest tenure of a Republican U.S. representative from North Carolina. Broyhill served 23 years, from 1963 to 1986. When Coble faces a Democratic opponent, which isn’t very often, he typically has exceeded 70% of the vote. He had a slightly tougher time in 2012. After winning a three-way GOP primary with 57% of the vote, he beat Democrat Tony Foriest with 61%.

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Howard Coble Election Results
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2012 General
Howard Coble (R)
Votes: 222,116
Percent: 60.92%
Anthony Foriest (D)
Votes: 142,467
Percent: 39.08%
2012 Primary
Howard Coble (R)
Votes: 50,701
Percent: 57.29%
Bill Flynn (R)
Votes: 19,741
Percent: 22.31%
Billy Yow
Votes: 18,057
Percent: 20.4%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (75%), 2008 (67%), 2006 (71%), 2004 (73%), 2002 (90%), 2000 (91%), 1998 (89%), 1996 (73%), 1994 (100%), 1992 (71%), 1990 (67%), 1988 (62%), 1986 (50%), 1984 (51%)
Howard Coble Votes and Bills
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National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 37 (L) : 63 (C) 32 (L) : 68 (C) 41 (L) : 59 (C)
Social 29 (L) : 70 (C) 28 (L) : 72 (C) - (L) : 83 (C)
Foreign 15 (L) : 85 (C) 46 (L) : 54 (C) 54 (L) : 45 (C)
Composite 27.2 (L) : 72.8 (C) 35.3 (L) : 64.7 (C) 34.7 (L) : 65.3 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC90100
LCV116
CFG7374
ITIC-83
NTU8480
20112012
COC93-
ACLU-0
ACU8891
ADA105
AFSCME0-
Key House Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Find AG in contempt
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Speed troop withdrawal
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop detainee transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Limit campaign funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $820 billion stimulus
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Let guns in national parks
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass cap-and-trade
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar federal abortion funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Repeal D.C. gun law
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase minimum wage
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Share immigration data
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Foreign aid abortion ban
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Ban gay bias in workplace
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 8/08
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • No operations in Iran
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Free trade with Peru
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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