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View from the Hill

Carolina Capitol Roundup: Nov. 4-8

Correction: A previous version of this story said Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., had served 16 terms, when in fact Coble has served only 15 terms. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.

This the first of a weekly installment at View from the Hill that will aggregate the most interesting news from Capitol Hill pertaining to North Carolina.

Coble to retire from House

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., announced he will not run for re-election in the U.S. House of Representatives after serving 15 terms. Coble announced the decision at a news conference at the Guilford County Republican Party headquarters.

Drew Moretz, vice president for government relations for the UNC system, worked for Coble in the past and said he was a consummate public servant who cared about constituents. Moretz talked about his first week on the job.

“One of the assignments was to follow him around for an event,” Moretz said. “I’ve never been so tired in my life. He was tireless. He will be missed.”

Meanwhile, Laura Fjeld, a former UNC system administrator who is running for Coble’s seat as a Democrat, released a statement wishing Coble well but also looking to the future.

“As hard-line, extremist candidates emerge to run for this seat, I’ll continue to offer voters different priorities and a better path,” Fjeld said.

Kimrey Rhinehardt, vice president for federal relations for the UNC system, said one instance of Coble advocating for education came when he pushed back against a requirement by the Federal Government that made universities to print faculty advertisements.

“Mr. Coble helped us to get that reversed and it ended up saving the university $500,000,” she said, and added that he rarely took credit for his advocacy.

“He was never the first one to claim credit for something he did.”

Meanwhile, Rep. David Price, D-N.C., also released a statement saying he appreciated the way Coble cared about his constituents across party lines, as well as his humor.

“I have always especially enjoyed introducing my staff to Howard, his first question being what high school they attended,” he said. “And his second question being, ‘What’s it like working for this scallywag?’”

Watt not to back down from nomination

The U.S. Senate blocked Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C.‘s nomination as director of the Federal Housing Financing Agency last week — but Watt said he is optimistic about his future chances.

“I am obviously very disappointed about the outcome of the Senate vote on cloture,” he said in a statement. “I do not plan to withdraw as the nominee for the position and remain hopeful that we will prevail.”

Watt was nominated in May by President Barack Obama. But fellow North Carolinian Burr being the only Republican Senator to vote in favor of cloture.

The Analysis: Could Pittenger pit himself against the Tea Party?

Robert Pittenger might face a primary challenger after voting to end last month’s government shutdown, according to a letter obtained by the Charlotte Observer.

But while the Tea Party has not been shy about staging primaries, Pittenger could find avenues to push back against a potential challenge.

First, Pittenger has a strong conservative record to stand on. As he touted in a recent op-ed, he has consistently been ranked as one of the most conservative legislators in Congress by conservative organization Heritage Action.

Even after his vote, he still touts a 90 percent conservative scorecard by the organization.

In addition, Pittenger could frame himself as defending North Carolina’s interest against outside influence. A poll by left-leaning Public Policy Polling last month showed 63 percent of North Carolinians opposed the shutdown.

Conversely, the Tea Party Leadership Fund, the group that the letter, is based in Virginia.

View from the Hill is a political blog by Daily Tar Heel staff writers. Any opinion expressed in it does not represent the Daily Tar Heel. Email the blog coordinator at dthviewfromthehill@gmail.com.

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