Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., will not announce whether he is retiring from Congress at today's 1 p.m. press conference in his district. Coble, who was just released from the hospital, will be addressing the media on his recent health issues, according to his district office.
"There's no big announcement," said Kathy McClellan, Coble's Greensboro district office manager. "The news conference is to answer questions about his health."
The 80-year-old Republican congressman was admitted to George Washington University Hospital Dec. 13, with what was described as s respiratory infection. He was recuperating in a hospital in North Carolina and was released on Tuesday.
Coble said earlier in the year that he would decide whether to run for Congress again by the end of 2011, and speculation swirled today that an announcement was imminent, but he is postponing that choice until ongoing litigation over North Carolina's new district lines is resolved. "He's waiting to see if the lines change," McClellan said.
The North Carolina legislature significantly altered Coble's 6th District, drawing in eight new counties when it redid the state's congressional lines earlier this year, but the new district still offers safety for Republicans. Fifty-six percent of voters in the new NC-06 supported John McCain for president in 2008, and the district has a Cook Partisan Voting Index rating of R+11.
Coble was first elected in 1984 and won at least two-thirds of the vote in his district in each election since 1990. According to the Almanac of American Politics, Coble is the longest-tenured House Republican in North Carolina history.
-- Sean Sullivan contributed