Bratton calls for change; Coble wants to keep serving
By Steve Huffman
Teresa Sue Bratton is the first to admit she’s a long shot to unseat U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., and win a seat in Congress.
After all, Coble has been serving since 1985 and ó following a shaky start to the re-election process ó he’s faced minimal opposition in recent years.
He’s North Carolina’s longest serving congressman and seems to enjoy a loyal following. Coble is friendly, seldom encountering a stranger.
Meanwhile, Bratton, 59, is a semi-retired (she still works one day a week) pediatric allergist who is making her first bid for political office. A Greensboro resident, she emerged victorious from a three-candidate Democratic primary in May.
She’s outgoing, personable and swears she’s in the congressional race to win, not merely represent token opposition to Coble.
“The fact that I’m running and saying health care, the economy and good jobs are important … we need these to be important to him, too,” Bratton said of Coble. “It’s worth what I’m doing.”
Bratton said she decided to enter the race when she heard Coble air complaints about the country’s involvement in the war in Iraq, yet continue to vote to support funding for the conflict.
In a like sense, Bratton said, Coble says he’s in support of the nation’s children, but votes lock-step with Republicans when they do little to provide health insurance for the millions of young people who have none.
Bratton said she wrote Coble on both issues and both times the congressman replied with nice letters.
But, Bratton said, “It struck me, he couldn’t vote for what he believed.”
Thus, she said, her decision to attempt to unseat him.
“If we continue to let him run unopposed, he feels he’s making everybody happy,” Bratton said. “That’s something we just can’t do.”
Coble, 77, said he never considered not running for re-election and said he’s proud of his service in Washington and all he’s done for people of North Carolina’s 6th District.
He said Republicans have been the party consistently in support of energy options ó solar and wind power, included ó that offer alternatives to America’s dependence on the import of foreign oil.
Coble said he’s been a part of the Republican drive to offer tax breaks to the working class and warns that if Democrats like Bratton and Barack Obama are elected, “Inevitably, we’re going to see several tax increases.”
When it comes to the war in Iraq, Coble said he was one of the first Republican members of Congress to speak against it, and said that if he’d known the Bush administration had entered the war with no post-entry plans, “I don’t think I’d have ever voted to send in troops in the first place.”
That said, Coble said it’s necessary that a pullout from Iraq be done with dignity.
“I don’t think we can just cut and run abruptly,” he said. “But the quicker we get our people out, the better.”
Bratton, a Greensboro resident, for 25 years worked as a pediatric allergist and continues to work that one day a week in the allergy/asthma clinic for indigent children at Guilford Child Health.
She was born in Nashville, Tenn., and graduated from Vanderbilt University with an undergraduate degree, then followed that by receiving her Doctor of Medicine degree there in 1974.
Bratton and her husband, Dr. Gustav Blomquist, have three children. Bratton is an accomplished tennis player and enjoys hiking.
She noted that she’s made a history for herself of bucking odds thrown at females. Bratton said that when she was a child, she played Little League baseball alongside boys and played football until being banned from doing so when she reached junior high school.
She noted that even when she was at Vanderbilt, of the 75 students in her medical class, only five were females.
“Times have changed considerably,” Bratton said.
She said she’s running on a number of issues. Included:
– Affordable health care for all Americans. Bratton said she supports a program that focuses on wellness.
“We’ve ended up with a health-care system that’s the most expensive in the world,” Bratton said. “We can be less expensive.”
– Making an effort to improve the economy while creating better, higher-paying jobs.
“We need to be supporting small businesses and finding ways to make them grow,” Bratton said. “We need to look for ways to open more small businesses. There are lots of options we need to look at.”
– Efforts to improve the environment. Bratton said politicians need to look at ways to “mitigate the effects of global warming” and look for ways to rid our dependence on foreign oil.
“If we don’t need their oil, there’s no reason for us to be in the Middle East,” Bratton said.
Coble is single and a graduate of Guilford College. He served in the Coast Guard and early in his career practiced law both privately and as an assistant U.S. attorney.
Coble is a member of the House Committee on Judiciary and Transportation and Infrastructure. He’s a ranking member of the House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee.
Coble said that when it comes to describing his years of public service, he likes to borrow a line from pitching great Dizzy Dean who said, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”
Coble said his service to his constituents is beyond reproach and said he consistently receives awards from watchdog organizations for his fiscal conservancy.
“I’ve worked hard to represent well those who have elected me,” Coble said.
Bratton, meanwhile, acknowledges that Coble has done a lot for the 6th District, but said she can’t help but feel it’s time for a change. She said incumbents are traditionally returned to office in 85 percent of all elections, and said one as long-standing as Coble probably has an even better chance of being re-elected.
Bratton was so intent on getting her name out that on a recent trip to the southern end of the 6th District she made a special trip to a supporter in Kannapolis to put up an campaign sign.
Bratton laughed that it’s all part of the game of politics.
“You’re not dead till you’re dead,” she said. “I haven’t lost till I’ve lost.”