Coble is Unopposed but not Unapproachable
It is going to be hard to beat NC 6th district congressman Howard Coble in the upcoming election because nobody is running against him. I doubt that mobilizing opposition to him on the basis of the heinous hacking bill he is co-sponsoring would be enough to unseat a guy who got 91% of the vote in 2000, anyway.
(Howard Berman, the other sponsor, also appears to be running unopposed.)
But that doesn't mean pressure cannot be brought to bear. Individual liberty is part of Coble's message, and big corporations like the ones who bankroll him aren't very popular just now. He has another election in two years, and even with the recent gerrymandering that strengthens his political base he would have to pay attention to a concerted information campaign on this issue.
So far, the regional daily is not taking this seriously. This morning it pretty much laughed off opposition to the bill (4th item)--the print edition referred to those concerned as "music fans/geeks." Hey, Coble is only co-sponsoring the bill, it's not his, the supine paper quotes a Coble staffer without challenging the statement at all.
Coble gets a lot of mileage out of his refusal to accept a Congressional pension. Less publicized are the sources of his campaign funds. In 1998, contributions from the DC area (lobbyists) were four times the amount he got from the area he represents in North Carolina. That year he got more money from the entertainment industry than he got from traditional local concerns such as textiles, tobacco, and insurance--combined.
In the current campaign cycle, entertainment is second only to lawyers in Coble's funding game, and DC again outweighs local contributions by a substantial margin.
Howard Coble may not have to answer to the voters in November 2002, but he certainly owes us some answers now on this bill. I'll write my column about it this week. Maybe the News & Record can do some work on this--they say they are open to suggestions.