Rep. Howard Coble, a Korean War veteran and 15-term House Republican from North Carolina, today became the 15th House Republican incumbent to decide not to seek reelection to the House of Representatives in next fall's congressional midterm elections.
Coble becomes the ninth Republican to retire, while six others have launched campaigns for the Senate.
The aging Republican Party, which mourned the death of its longest-serving member, Rep. Bill Young, last month, could present House Speaker John Boehner with his toughest defense of the Speaker's gavel next year.
After Coble announced his decision to retire, Democrats seemed eager to characterize the diminished GOP ranks as proof that the Tea Party is frustrating the GOP's old guard.
"Barely a day goes by without another Republican jumping ship from Speaker John Boehner's disastrous Republican Congress - because House Republicans aren't giving up their reckless behavior and focusing on the right priorities like creating jobs," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Kelly Ward wrote in a statement after Coble announced his retirement. "With another fiscal showdown just a few months away, House Republicans are losing their appetite for the irresponsible Tea Party agenda and are unwilling to defend it to the American people next year."
Still, Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, expressed confidence that the GOP will find a candidate to keep Coble's seat in Republican control.
"Howard will be missed in the halls of Congress, and he is leaving incredibly big shoes to fill," Walden, R-Ore., stated. "I am confident, though, that North Carolina voters will elect a representative who will work to continue Howard's legacy and will keep this district in Republican hands after the 2014 election cycle."
In addition to Coble and Young, who died Oct. 18 but had announced he would retire after the 113 th Congress just weeks before his passing, the seven other House Republicans sworn in at the beginning of the Congress who have thrown in the towel are Jo Bonner, R-Ala.; Rodney Alexander, R-La.; Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.; Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; John Campbell, R-Calif.; Tim Griffin, R-Ark.; and Jon Runyan, R-N.J., who announced his retirement Wednesday after serving just two terms. Bonner and Alexander resigned earlier this year rather than serve out the remainder of their terms.
Georgia Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston; Shelley Moore Capito, W.V.; Bill Cassidy, La.; and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., all have decided to run for the U.S. Senate rather than seek re-election to the House.
On the other hand, just three House Democrats have decided to seek alternate public office. None have announced their intent to retire.
The House is currently made up of 231 Republicans and 200 Democrats, with four vacant seats.