Howard Coble

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Howard Coble
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byRobin Britt
Succeeded byMark Walker
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
from the 27th[1] district
In office
Preceded byThomas Bell Hunter
Succeeded byAlbert S. Lineberry
Frank Julian Sizemore, III
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
from the 23rd[2] district
In office
Preceded byHenry E. Frye
Thomas Odell Gilmore
Thomas B. Sawyer
William Marcus Short
Charles Edward Webb[3]
Succeeded byGeorge W. Miller Jr.
William Paul Pulley, Jr.
Kenneth Bridgeforth Spaulding
Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Revenue
In office
GovernorJames Holshouser
Preceded byGilmer Andrew Jones, Jr.
Succeeded byMark G. Lynch
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
from the 26th[4] district
In office
Preceded byHargrove Skipper Bowles, Jr.
Elton Edwards
James Gooden Exum, Jr.
Charles Wesley Phillips
Daniel P. Whitley, Jr.[5]
Succeeded byClifton Tredway Hunt, Jr.
John McNeill Smith, Jr.[6]
Personal details
John Howard Coble

(1931-03-18)March 18, 1931
Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedNovember 3, 2015(2015-11-03) (aged 84)
Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Alma materAppalachian State University
Guilford College (AB)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Coast Guard
Years of service1952–1956
1960–1982 (USCGR)[7]
Rank Captain
Battles/warsKorean War

John Howard Coble (March 18, 1931 – November 3, 2015) was an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 6th congressional district, serving from 1985 to 2015. He was a member of the Republican Party. The district includes all or portions of ten counties in the northern-central part of the state, including portions of Greensboro and Durham.

Early life, education, and pre-political career[edit]

Coble was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, the son of Johnnie E. (Holt) and Joseph Howard Coble.[8] After high school, he initially attended Appalachian State University, but after a year joined the United States Coast Guard, serving for over 5 years and staying on as a reservist for an additional 18 years. Upon discharging from military service, he attended Guilford College, from which he received a history degree. He was a member of the Epsilon Iota chapter of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Coble then moved on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a degree in law.

After graduating from college, Coble first worked as an insurance agent. He then spent nearly 20 years as a practicing attorney, and he was also Secretary of Revenue under North Carolina Governor James Holshouser. In 1979, Coble was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, serving until his election to Congress.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Coble was first elected to Congress in 1984, narrowly defeating Walter Cockerham in the primary 51%–49%.[9] In the general election, he defeated one-term Democratic incumbent Robin Britt 51%–49%.[10] Coble was likely the beneficiary of long coattails from Ronald Reagan, who carried the district by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. In 1986, he defeated Britt in a rematch, which was an even closer 50.03%–49.97% and Coble won by only 79 votes (closest margin of victory that year). He would never face another contest nearly that close, and would be reelected 13 more times with 61% or more of the vote.[11] In July 2008, Coble won the Republican primary unopposed and became North Carolina's longest-serving Republican U.S. congressman, surpassing former U.S. Congressman Jim Broyhill (who was also elected to 12 terms but left the House in July 1986 to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat). Coble announced in 2013 that he would not run for another term in 2014, and would retire after 30 years in Congress.[12]


In the 105th United States Congress Coble moved to suspend the rules and pass the NET Act on November 4, 1997, which removed the requirement of financial gain for criminal prosecution of copyright violation.[13] The NET Act was passed only after the House suspended the rules.[14]

Coble was a strong supporter of agriculture and had voted in favor of bills to protect agriculture. Coble opposed further regulation of tobacco because he believed it would hurt North Carolina tobacco planters.

Coble took a hard-line position on illegal drugs, and co-sponsored a resolution to oppose the legalization and use of medical marijuana.[15] He also voted for an amendment to authorize drug testing on federal employees.[15] However, he authored a resolution to celebrate the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States.[15] Coble was also a member of the Tea Party Caucus, joining Sue Myrick and Walter B. Jones as the sole members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation to join the group.

In June 2013, Coble announced introduction of new legislation to reform the congressional pension program. He stated that reforming congressional pensions was long overdue and that the bill would lengthen the time of service required before a member would be eligible for participation in the pension program.[16] Coble himself pledged not to receive any pension from the United States government. He told CBS Up to the Minute, "I figured taxpayers pay my salary – not a bad salary, and I figure that's sufficient. Let me fend for myself after the salary's collected." He also stated to CBS, "I've pledged my assurance I won't take the pension. That's between my constituents and me. As far as convicted felons, I guess that's between their constituents and themselves." He was one of two congressmen, with Ron Paul, to have pledged to decline his pension.[17]

However, during the government shutdown in October 2013, Coble said that although 800,000 federal workers are furloughed and not receiving a paycheck, he would still collect his salary as a requirement of law.[18] Coble was one of 87 Republicans who voted to end the shutdown.[19]

Legislation sponsored[edit]

A bill to extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 for 10 years (H.R. 3626; 113th Congress) was introduced in the House on December 2, 2013, by Coble.[20] The bill would extend the Act but would not expand any of its provisions (related to plastic guns).[21] It passed the House on December 3, 2013.

Coble also sponsored the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),[22] in 1997, a bill fundamental to the foundation of internet law. It would come into effect in the year 2000.

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Personal life[edit]

As a young man, Coble frequently enjoyed eating a breakfast of Rose brand pork brains in milk gravy and eggs. According to a quote from Coble appearing alongside his family recipe for "Breakfast Brains N' Eggs," the breakfast was "fairly regular" and "not at all unusual".[23]

Coble was a member of the Guilford College Board of Visitors and of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Board of Visitors.

He was a Freemason and member of Guilford Lodge number 656 in Greensboro.[24]

Coble had skin cancer for many years among other ailments. He was admitted to intensive care in a Greensboro hospital in September 2015 after complications from skin cancer surgery, and died in the hospital from those complications on November 3, 2015, at age 84.[25][26]

Electoral history[edit]

North Carolina's 6th congressional district: Results 1984–2012[27][28][29]
Year Republican Votes % Democratic Votes % Third Party Party Votes % Third Party Party Votes %
1984 Howard Coble 102,925 51% Robin Britt 100,263 49%
1986 Howard Coble 72,329 50% Robin Britt 72,250 50%
1988 Howard Coble 116,534 62% Tom Gilmore 70,008 38%
1990 Howard Coble 125,392 67% Helen Allegrone 62,913 33%
1992 Howard Coble 162,822 71% Robin Hood 67,200 29%
1994 Howard Coble 98,355 100% No candidate
1996 Howard Coble 167,828 73% Mark Costley 58,022 25% Gary Goodson Libertarian 2,693 1%
1998 Howard Coble 112,740 89% No candidate Jeffrey Bentley Libertarian 14,454 11%
2000 Howard Coble 195,727 91% No candidate Jeffrey Bentley Libertarian 18,726 9%
2002 Howard Coble 151,430 90% No candidate Tara Grubb Libertarian 16,067 10%
2004 Howard Coble 207,470 73% William Jordan 76,153 27%
2006 Howard Coble 108,433 71% Rory Blake 44,661 29%
2008 Howard Coble 221,008 67% Teresa Bratton 108,873 33%
2010 Howard Coble 156,252 75% Sam Turner 51,507 25%
2012 Howard Coble 222,116 61% Tony Foriest 142,467 39% Hugh Chauvin Libertarian 4,847 2% Brandon Parmer Green 2,017 1%


  1. ^ "North Carolina State House of Representatives - 1983-1984". Retrieved Apr 4, 2021.
  2. ^ "North Carolina State House of Representatives - 1979-1980". Retrieved Apr 4, 2021.
  3. ^ "North Carolina State House of Representatives - 1977-1978". Retrieved Apr 4, 2021.
  4. ^ "North Carolina State House of Representatives - 1969". Retrieved Apr 4, 2021.
  5. ^ "North Carolina State House of Representatives - 1967". Retrieved Apr 4, 2021.
  6. ^ "North Carolina State House of Representatives - 1971". Retrieved Apr 4, 2021.
  7. ^ "COBLE, Howard – Biographical Information". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  8. ^ "coble". Retrieved 5 November 2015.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Our Campaigns – NC District 6 – R Primary Race – May 08, 1984". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Our Campaigns – NC District 6 Race – Nov 06, 1984". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  11. ^ "Our Campaigns – Candidate – J. Howard Coble". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  12. ^ Aaron Blake (7 November 2013). "Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) to retire". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Weekend Maintenance – Library of Congress". Retrieved 31 August 2015.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Weekend Maintenance – Library of Congress". Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  15. ^ a b c "Expressing the sense of Congress that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug and should not be legalized for medicinal use. (1998; 105th Congress H.J.Res. 117) –". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  16. ^ "High Point Enterprise praises Coble pension bill". U.S. House of Representatives. June 18, 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Pensions Follow Ex-Lawmakers to Prison". CBS News. December 22, 2009.
  18. ^ "CNN Keeps Count..." CNN. October 3, 2013.
  19. ^ Cameron, Darla; Andrews, Wilson (2013-10-16). "Votes to end the government shutdown". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  20. ^ "H.R. 3626 – All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  21. ^ "House votes to renew ban on plastic firearms". 3 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  22. ^ Coble, Howard (1998-10-28). "H.R.2281 - 105th Congress (1997-1998): Digital Millennium Copyright Act". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  23. ^ Coble, Howard. "Favorite Breakfast "Brains N' Eggs"". Congress Cooks!. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  24. ^ Carter, Ric (July–August 2012). "Masonic Hero Gets Rites at Reburial" (PDF). The North Carolina Mason. 137 (4). Raleigh, NC, USA: Grand Lodge of A.F.&A.M. of North Carolina: Page 5, 8. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  25. ^ "Former NC Congressman Howard Coble dies at 84". WNCN. 4 November 2015. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  26. ^ "Former U.S. Rep. Howard Coble dies at 84, served for 30 years". USA Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  27. ^ "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2007-07-25.
  28. ^ "Election Results". Federal Election Commission.
  29. ^ "November 6, 2012 General Election". Retrieved 18 April 2013.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by