U.S. Rep. Howard Coble says his 15th term in Congress will be his last.
The 82-year-old Republican announced Thursday in Greensboro he won't seek re-election in 2014, opening the seat for the first time in three decades. Coble said he's mentally sharp, but recent back problems and skin cancer worry him about whether he can keep up with a 2014 campaign.
"I just fear that I would be limited physically and serve no good purpose," Coble said at a news conference Thursday at Guilford County GOP headquarters, where an audience of about 200 gave him a standing ovation.
Coble is the longest-serving GOP House member in North Carolina history, having first won the seat in 1984. He's been considered a reliable conservative representing the Triad region and surrounding counties. He's probably best known for his committee work on intellectual property issues and for refusing to take a congressional pension in the name of fiscal conservatism.
Coble has been hospitalized for a variety of ailments over the past few years, including a respiratory infection in late 2011 and recent surgeries.
Several Republicans are expected to run for the seat.