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Howard Coble Opponents Line Up in North Carolina #NC06

Coble has a new challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Coble has a new challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Laura Fjeld, a former vice president and general counsel for the University of North Carolina system, announced Monday that she will challenge longtime Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C.

“I have great optimism about our future in North Carolina, but partisan politics are toxic,” said Fjeld, a Democrat, in a statement to the News Observer. “I haven’t created the problems in Washington D.C. — but I will be part of the solution.”

Coble, 82, was first elected to Congress in 1984 and has had health problems over the past few years. Last month, he underwent successful hernia surgery at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., after experiencing severe stomach pain.

A few days before that surgery, Coble told the News Record that he hoped to run for a 16th term if his health allowed it. He has not made a final decision yet.

If Coble chooses to run for re-election, he will face Rev. Mark Walker, a Republican who has announced a bid for the seat.

Republican Phil Berger Jr., a local district attorney and son of state Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, has said he will run if Coble retires, according to the News Observer.

North Carolina’s 6th District is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district with 58 percent in 2012.