GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) said Thursday afternoon he will not seek re-election in 2014.
The announcement came at a news conference at the Guilford County Republican Party Headquarters in Greensboro.
Coble said skin cancer and back pain contributed to his decision not to run for a 16th term. He has suffered a series of health problems in the last few years.
"You are all stuck with me for at least another year," Coble joked.
Following the announcement, he thanked his constituents. He said even though he's held his congressional seat since 1985, it's not his seat - it's the people's.
He told the crowd his proudest achievements in Congress are intellectual property reform and always being accessible to his constituents.
He added that his regrets include not taking a congressional pension and voting to send troops to Iraq after 9/11.
Coble told attendees that after the news conference he's heading to Bethesda, Md., where doctors will evaluate his cancer.
Coble was elected to the Sixth Congressional District in 1984. His 28 years of service make him the longest-serving GOP House member in North Carolina history.
The Sixth District in North Carolina is comprised of five counties, including: Caswell, Person, Rockingham, Stokes and Surry. There are parts of five additional counties also included in the district: Alamance, Durham, Granville, Guilford and Orange.
U.S. Senator Burr (R-N.C.) released the following statement:
"Congressman Coble has been a steadfast voice for North Carolina in Washington for nearly 30 years and he will be sorely missed. Having served with Howard for many years, I am proud to call him a friend and mentor. Brooke and I wish him all the best in his retirement and thank him for his service to our great state and the entire nation."
Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) released the following statement after the news conference:
"For three decades, Howard Coble has been a leading voice for conservative North Carolina values in Congress. And for nearly as long, he has been my mentor and friend. Congressman Coble's leadership and legacy of public service will be sorely missed by the people of his district and all across our state."
N.C. Republican Party Chariman Claude Pope issued the following statement:
"Congressman Howard Coble's retirement leaves a huge void in the North Carolina delegation and on Capitol Hill. Congressman Coble represented North Carolina's Sixth District with great honor and integrity, dedicating his entire life to serving the public. The key to his success was that he was sincere, honest, and authentic."
Former State Representative Jim Snyder released the following statement to news outlets Thursday afternoon, ahead of Coble's news conference:
"U.S. Congressman Howard Coble has served with great distinction our state and nation for these many decades. It is my hope and prayer that he continue to do so for many, many years. At such time as he might stand down, it has been suggested that I consider pursuing his seat. Notwithstanding the Congressman's brave, brilliant efforts for too long our government has been in a state of disarray. The people deserve better of their elected leaders."
WFMY News 2