Berger Jr. to run for Coble seat
The son of North Carolina’s state Senate leader confirmed Wednesday that he’ll run next year for a chance to northern Durham and Orange counties in Congress.
Phil Berger Jr., now the district attorney in Rockingham County, is running for the Republican nomination for the 6th District U.S. House seat.
“We need proven leaders and Republicans who will stand strong and not waiver when they go to Washington,” said Berger, who made it clear he’s an opponent of the federal Affordable Care Act. “I have two children I want to inherit the same freedoms and opportunities I had when I grew up, and that’s why I’m running for Congress.
Berger hopes to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, a Republican who’s decided to step down at the end of his current term.
Coble has represented the 6th District since 1985.
Berger is the son of N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger Sr., R-Rockingham. Berger Sr. considered running in 2014 for a U.S. Senate seat but recently announced that he’ll instead seek re-election to the General Assembly.
The 6th is one of four congressional districts that cover parts of Durham County since the approval by state legislators in 2011 of a new representation scheme.
Long identified with the Greensboro area, the 6th District includes all of Surry, Stokes, Rockingham, Caswell and Person counties, portions of Guilford and Alamance counties, and the northern portions of Orange, Durham and Granville counties.
As drawn by the Republican majorities of the N.C. General Assembly, the 6th District favors Republican candidates.
Democrats account for a bit less than 42 percent of its registered voters, and the district gave about 55 percent of its votes in the 2008 presidential race to GOP nominee John McCain.
Durham County voters as a group are heavily Democratic, having given President Barack Obama about 76 percent of their votes in both the 2008 and 2012 elections.
But its northern-tier precincts lean conservative; 51 percent of its voters backed Coble in 2012 over Democratic challenger Tony Forest.
Northern Orange County likewise leans conservative. There, Coble received nearly 53 percent of the 2012 vote.
Berger Jr. expects that trend to continue.
“All across the district, people have conservative, traditional American values,” he said. “People in northern Durham are concerned about Obamacare and the need to repeal that misguided legislation. People agree their voices aren’t being heard in Washington.”
Berger is certain to face Republican opposition in a party primary next spring, as Greensboro minister Mark Walker and High Point financial adviser Don Webb have both announced bids for office.
On the Democratic side, Orange County lawyer Laura Fjeld has signaled that she will run.
The present district split-up of Durham County puts its southern suburbs in the 4th District, held by U.S. Rep. David Price. The center city is in the 1st District, held by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield. And on the eastern edge of the county, precinct 32, which votes at Neal Middle School, is in the 13th District of U.S. Rep. George Holding.
Price and Butterfield are Democrats; Holding, like Coble, is a Republican.