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Pittenger, Hagan among richest members of Congress

CORRECTED: This item has been corrected to more accurately reflect Rep. Robert Pittenger's relationship to his former company and the source of his assets.

Two members of North Carolina’s delegation made it onto Roll Call’s list of the 50 Richest Members of Congress: Rep. Robert Pittenger and Sen. Kay Hagan.

Pittenger, a Republican who lives in Charlotte and represents the 9th District, ranked No. 13 with a net worth of $27.68 million. Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro, ranked No. 45, with a net worth of $8.06 million.

Cruz: We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday heaped praise on Jesse Helms at a Heritage Foundation lecture named after the late North Carolina senator.

“I’ll tell you something … the very first political contribution I ever made in my life was to Jesse Helms,'' Cruz said according to Roll Call newsletter. "When I was a kid, I sent $10 to Jesse Helms, ’cause they were beating up on him, they were coming after him hard and I thought it wasn’t right, and at the time my allowance was 50 cents a week,” the Texas Republican said. “I am willing to venture a guess that I may have been Jesse Helms’ single largest donor as a percentage of annual income.”

For the NC Democratic Party things could be worse -- take Alabama

Roll Call, the Capitol Hill, has just named the seven most dysfunctional state parties in the country and surprise, surprise, the North Carolina Democratic Party did not make the cut.

The North Carolina Democratic Party has had it problems with infighting and law suits. But apparently you have to keep these things in perspective.

In Alabama, the state Democratic Party chairman bolted the party to form its own organization and the party is being threatened with eviction, is unable to to pay utility bills, and is saddled with $500,000 in debt.

Before the Alaska Republican Party leaders were ousted, the party chair changed the locks on GOP headquarters.

The chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party stepped down after the state bar association temporarily suspended his law license. The Minnesota Republican Party posted $2 million in debt was nearly evicted from its building.

The factional fighting among Republicans in Nevada has gotten so bad after Ron Paul supporters took over the party, that the Republican National Committee unveiled a shadow party structure called "Team Nevada.''

Roll Call also included the New Jersey Democratic Party which it said was in disarray because of the strength of Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Jim Cain also looking at Hagan race

Raleigh’s Jim Cain, former ambassador to Denmark and one-time president of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, tells Roll Call he is taking a serious look at running in the Republican primary next year to challenge U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.

“The race is indeed something that I am considering,” Cain told the Washington, D.C. publication. “Many friends and supporters around the state are encouraging me to challenge Senator Hagan.”

Cain was ambassador under President George W. Bush. A corporate attorney by profession, he works with Kilpatrick Townsend.

That race is getting crowded quickly.

McCrory's new spokeswoman once a member of so-called 'Palin truth squad'

Well, at least Gov. Pat McCrory's new press secretary is battle tested. Crystal Feldman, who McCrory announced Tuesday as his new press secretary, once was part of a team handling Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Feldman took a job in 2008 as a young researcher with the Republican National Committee in Washington, according to a profile in Roll Call magazine. But she wasn't there long.

"The RNC sent Feldman to Alaska to help handle the press after the GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain tapped then Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick,'' Roll Call wrote.

"Feldman and her co-workers spent most of their time conducting research and batting down rumors about Palin," Roll Call wrote. "The RNC group lovingly referred to themselves as 'the Palin truth squad.''

The North Carolina native later went to to work a Nevada Senate campaign, the California Republican Party, and for a House Committee on The Hill.

Jones profiled as political independent

Republican Congressman Walter Jones is the subject of a flattering profile in the current issue of Roll Call, the publication of Capitol Hill.

The article, entitled “Jones: A GOP Soloist Who Isn't Dreaming Big,” portrays the Pitt County lawmaker as a highly independent individual who is willing to split with his party on issues such as the war on Iraq, even though it has cost him committee chairmanships.

“While its easy cast him as simply another member of the 'problem caucus,' Jones, 68, in many ways defies the stereotype,” Roll Call writes. “Unlike Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) or Reps Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) the soft-spoken Jones has never sought to translate his differences with leadership into a national profile.”

The article quotes GOP Congressman Howard Coble: "He's a former Southern Baptist, now a Catholic. He's a former Democrat, now a Republican. I once told him, 'You're the most versatile member in Congress.'"

GOP targeting Kissell's seat in '10

Republicans are targeting freshman Democratic U.S. Rep Larry Kissell in 2010.

Party strategists believe that, with a strong candidate, reclaiming the suburban Charlotte-based district could be possible, Roll Call reports.

Kissell defeated Rep. Robin Hayes last year.

Hayes’ deep roots, Congressional tenure and fundraising ability make him a desirable candidate to try to take back the seat. But after five terms, another rigorous campaign might not be on Hayes’ agenda.

Hayes said he is still considering a 2010 run but that he is also working closely with the party to recruit other strong candidates.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has been mentioned as another top prospect, and he has not ruled out a Congressional run.

Other potential Republican challengers mentioned include Union County District Attorney John Snyder and former state Rep. Mia White.

Hat tip: RTB 

More attention on Cunningham

Cal CunninghamCal Cunningham got some more favorable press.

The former state senator is mentioned prominently in an article in the Washington-based Roll Call newspaper about prospects for the 2010 Senate race:

Former Tar Heel state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek said this week that if Cunningham were to enter the race, he would be someone who would have to be taken seriously.

"He's got an excellent profile in terms of his biography," Meek said. "He's perceived as being a little bit more liberal than, say, Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler."

If one of the Congressmen decides to run and the DSCC and local party leaders can’t clear the field, Cunningham could be a dark horse in a primary where the electorate would be mostly hard-core Democrats in a midterm election.

"There's certainly going to be some folks who perceive Shuler or McIntyre as being too conservative," he said.

The article also notes that U.S. Reps. Heath Shuler or Mike McIntyre would be considered frontrunners if they jumped in the race, and says state Sen. Dan Blue, former Obama fundraiser Kenneth Lewis and Rep. Brad Miller are also "being mentioned." 

Report: Hayes 5th richest in Congress

U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes is among the wealthiest members of Congress, according to a Capitol Hill newspaper.

In a report released Monday, Roll Call ranked the Concord Republican No. 5 among the 535 members of the House and Senate. The newspaper estimates his net worth at about $79 million, much of it in stocks and bonds held in trust funds.

Hayes, heir to a textile fortune, has seen his wealth more than double since 2006. "According to Hayes' office, the increase, including more than $36 million in new trust funds, is the result of an inheritance. Hayes' mother passed away in 2007," Roll Call says.

Other Carolinas lawmakers in the Top 50: Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole at 19th, Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler at 35th and Democratic Rep. John Spratt at 36th.

The ranking, though, includes several caveats. Roll Call notes that lawmakers must disclose only a range for each asset and liability and do not have to report certain assets at all. They sometimes fill out the disclosure forms incorrectly.

More fun with campaign finance reports

Mel WattIt seems Pat McCrory is not the only politician handing out demotions.

As we noted yesterday, the Republican gubernatorial candidate demoted former U.S. Sen. Jim Broyhill to a state legislator on his campaign finance report.

Now Washington-based newspaper Roll Call reports that U.S. Rep. Mel Watt had a little trouble with two donors on his report: Fellow Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Jim Clyburn.

For employers, he listed: "Information requested."

Watt told Roll Call he was following Federal Election Commission protocol and requesting the information from the contributors.

"It does seem very funny, but we're just following protocol," he said.

Apparently the FEC won't accept information readily available on Wikipedia.

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