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Is a Bob Etheridge comeback in the works?

Former Rep. Bob Etheridge is in Washington today as part of a recruiting class that the Democrats are wooing to run for Congress next year,  according to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is holding a day of work shops for 107 prospective candidates from 36 states, the National Journal, a non partisan publication reports. The National Journal did not say that Etheridge was among the recruits, but the Republicans did.

Etheridge was unseated last year by Republican Renee Ellmers. Since then, the legislature has drawn new lines to make the 2nd district more Republican.

Since losing his seat, Etheridge has headed the state's stimulus office and the office in charge of recovery for Hurricane Irene.

Ellmers leads Triangle fund raising

Republican freshman Renee Ellmers leads the three Triangle members of Congress in building a campaign war chest for next year's election, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Ellmers, who represents the second district, reported raising $342,623 and having $291,890 on hand as of Sept. 30th. That compared to Democrat David Price, who represents the 4th district, who reported raising $287,235 and having $128,223 on hand.

Democrat Brad Miller, who represents the 13th district, reported raising $126,306 and having $126,877 on hand.

The Republican legislature has redrawn the 13th district, turning it from a Democratic-leaning district into a heavily Republican district. Miller has said he is considering running in the 4th district, where map makers have put his Raleigh apartment.

On the Republican side in the 13th district race, former U.S. Attorney George Holding has reported raising $234,846 including $45,050 he loaned his campaign. He had $45,385 cash on hand and $45,000 in debt.

Wake County commissioners chairman Paul Coble reported raising $101,516. He reported $80,087 on hand and $470 in debt.

Bill Randall, who was the GOP nominee in 2010, raised $5,565 and had $3,738 on hand and $42,022  in debt.

Robert Johnson, an Iraqi veteran, raised $937 and had $75 on hand.    

Lagging in the political money race

Members of the state's Congressional delegation have drawn notice this week for not raising much campaign money.

"North Carolina Democrats," including U.S. Reps. Brad Miller, David Price, Larry Kissell, and Heath Shuler, were fifth on the National Journal's list of 10 House fundraising flops.

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers was mentioned in a Politico piece about GOP freshmen's lackluster fund raising.

Ellmers anti-abortion bill advances

Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers this afternoon praised the action of a House committee in passing her anti-abortion bill.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill cutting money for the United Nations Population, which Ellmers said had “been widely denounced for its involvement in China's one-child policy, which relies on forced abortion and sterilization.”

“We have taken an important step in protecting American taxpayers from funding controversial family planning operations through the UN and will save $400 million in taxpayer dollars over ten years,” Ellmers said in a statement.

Both the Reagan and Bush administrations withheld funds for the program because of its involvement in China's one-child policy, but by executive order President Obama resumed contributions to the program.

10 most gerrymandered districts include three in North Carolina

A Washington Post list of the 10 most gerrymandered congressional districts in the nation include three from North Carolina.

The list at The Fix, a political blog, is either a merit badge or black eye to state Republican lawmakers who drew the new maps, depending on one's political perspective.

U.S. Rep. Brad Miller's district ranked No. 1 after he was double-bunked with fellow Democratic Rep. David Price. "Not content to simply make Miller’s 13th district unwinnable – as we knew would happen – North Carolina Republicans eventually decided they would also draw him out of it entirely and into the 4th district with Price," the blog remarked.

At No. 5, U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, an 8th district Democrat. "Kissell essentially got a pass from Republicans in last year’s election, with the national GOP spending basically no money to win his Charlotte-area 8th district. As it turns out, rejiggering his district was much easier and cheaper than dropping $1 million in TV ads."

And at No. 10, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmer's 2nd district. "This freshman was the only Republican to win a Democratic seat in North Carolina in 2010, and she got her reward for that upset."

Read the full report here.

Ellmers forms a leadership PAC

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers is just a freshman in Washington but she's looking to increase her clout with the formation of a new leadership political action committee.

Dubbed "Conservatives Restoring Excellence," the Raleigh-based PAC filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Sept. 15. The treasurer is listed as Collin McMichael, who runs his own political shop at CM&Co. The new committee will allow her to raise $5,000 contributions and donate money to like-minded causes and candidates, who are likely to return the favor.

A leadership PAC is not typical for a Capitol Hill newbie. But it's part of the Dunn Republican's effort to distinguish herself as a leading voice. (Call it The New York Times effect: a profile -- even if it appeared on A14 -- gave her a national platform). 

A University of Minnesota study released Monday found that Ellmers was the 13th most quoted first-term lawmaker -- and the third highest-ranking woman -- out of 94 freshmen in Congress.

Ellmers: Etheridge was politicking; I'm talking to citizens

During her campaign last year Republican Renee Ellmers slammed Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge for sending tax-paid mailings to his constituents.

But now that she is a member of Congress, Ellmers too is sending out tax-paid mailings to constituents.

Last year she thought it was a bad idea, firing off a letter to Etheridge accusing him of using taxpayer money to campaign.

“In every way these mailings resembled typical campaign ads, except they were paid for by taxpayers and not by your campaign,” Ellmers wrote in a letter her campaign made public. “How can you explain writing taxpayers that you are ‘reducing the deficit’ when you are wasting thousands of dollars of their money on political mailings to help you get reelected?”

Her congressional office reported spending $18,997 on two mailings to constituents in June and August that said she was “fighting for seniors” health care benefits and for “preserving Medicare.''

Asked about the mailing Monday, Ellmers said in a statement that it was an important part of her job to keep her constituents informed on the issues that will affect them.

“But even more important is hearing what they think, what issues concern them, and how I can serve them,” Ellmers said. “That is why nearly every one of these constituent mailings include a reply section where I encourage constituents to tell me their thoughts on these issues. This is about having a conversation, not making a sales pitch. My constituents want to hear from me and I want to hear from them ...”

But the Democratic Party accused Ellmers of “appalling” hypocrisy and having “totally gone Washington.”

“After pledging to protect Medicare on the campaign trail  and then voting to end the program in Congress, Congresswoman Ellmers is now sending out the same glossy mailers she once railed against – her double-dealing has simply gotten out of hand," said state Democratic spokesman Walton Robinson.

(Ellmers voted for the GOP plan to overhaul Medicare, that would change it from a fee-for service program which pays for health care procedures for most beneficiaries into a program which subsidizes the purchase of health insurance by individuals. The plan, largely crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, would have applied to people 54 and younger.)

Is McCrory vulnerable to a GOP challenge?

It's just conventional political thought that former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is the Republican choice to challenge Gov. Bev Perdue in the 2012 election.

But what if the once-moderate McCrory gets a challenger from the right? This is what the latest Public Policy Polling survey envisions.

The Democratic outfit asked the question -- "Would you like the Republican candidate for governor next year to be Pat McCrory or a more conservative Tea Party challenger?" -- and found a Tea Party candidate gets 46 percent to McCrory's 40 percent. It's just above the 4.9 percent margin of error but worth political intrigue.

McCrory's favorable-unfavorable numbers are at 51 percent to 11 percent with a large portion (38 percent) of voters still undecided. This means the race to define him is key to the 2012 election.

The other two GOP candidates poll tested were U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who both posted fav-unfav at 19 percent to 13 percent (68 percent undecided). In head-to-head matchups, McCrory easily tops both GOPers. For more results go here.

Ellmers strikes new pose

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers can now add pin-up to her resume. The Republican from Dunn is one of 12 women featured in the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute's Great American Conservative Women 2012 Calendar.

Ellmers is in heady company. Also featured is Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who is running for the Republican nomination for president; author and media pundit Ann Coulter; and various Fox News contributors such as Monica Crowley and Kate Obenshain. See the entire group here.

Who's missing? Sarah Palin.

The former Tea Party vice presidential candidate is invited to participate every year, according to the website.

Triangle congressmen moving around, but not traditional town halls

There has been some grumbling both nationally and locally about the lack of town hall meetings by members of Congress during the August recess, with some suggesting that lawmakers are trying to avoid the wrath of voters.

Triangle members of Congress have been meeting with voters, but in controlled environments.

Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers held a $13 per plate federal employees forum in Fayetteville on Wednesday at the local Holiday Inn.

Politico, the online national political journal, has called such events as “pay-per-view” events.

Ellmers has held several tele-town halls during the recess in which voters are invited to call in questions by phone.

Democratic Congressman David Price has scheduled two “senior citizen town halls” Friday in which he will given an update on what is going on in Congress and then open the floor to questions.
    The first one will be held 10:30 a.m. at the Community Family Life & Recreation Center at Lyon Park in Durham and the second one at the Durham Senior Center at 1 p.m.

They are follow ups to teleconference town halls he held.

Democratic Rep. Brad Miller has apparently not held a town hall meeting, but he is moving across the state meeting with constituents.

Miller, for example, is speaking today at 12:15 at the Crabtree Rotary Club in Raleigh.

LuAnn Canipe, Miller's spokeswoman, said it is Miller's practice to meet with constituents one one one, and also holding office hours in district offices.

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