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Candidate's poem about pot and cocaine

Cecil Bothwell, an Asheville City Council member who wants to run for Congress, performs a poem about cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol called  "The Use, the User, and the Used."

Bothwell's  congressional campaign website says he's "often described as a renaissance man," and is the author of books, songs and poems. The drug poem has a definite beat, but not a strong enough hook for a campaign theme. 

Bothwell wants the seat in the 11th Congressional District, now held by U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, who is not runing for reelection.



Hat Tip: Politico

N.C. congressmen take prominent role in deficit deal

In today's Charlotte Observer, Jim Morrill takes a look at two N.C. congressmen and their different approaches to the deficit impasse:

"When hope still ran strong for a colossal deficit deal, two N.C. congressmen from neighboring districts emerged as leaders of efforts that squeezed negotiators - from opposite sides.

Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler of Haywood County helped pull together a bipartisan group of 102 House members asking the supercommittee to keep all options on the table, including new revenue.

And Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of Cherryville led 72 House Republicans in urging the panel not to raise taxes.

The issue thrust North Carolina's youngest House members into the spotlight, though they've approached it different ways."

Read the full story here.

Blue Dog Democrats are a fading breed

WASHINGTON -- Republicans have listed North Carolina's Blue Dog Democrats as an endangered species, but U.S. Reps. Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre say they have some bite left in them.

Under the GOP redistricting plan approved earlier this month by the U.S. Justice Department, the two moderate Democrats are on the shortlists of most vulnerable members of Congress in the 2012 elections. The Republicans, who refer to the pair as "Obama's lapdogs," are investing heavily in the races and see North Carolina as ground zero in their efforts to increase their House majority.

Rep. Larry Kissell, who represents Charlotte and Concord, is not an official Blue Dog, but is often associated with the group and votes along the same lines on fiscal issues.

A loss by any of the three would be further deterioration of the conservative Southern wing of the national Democratic Party, as the moderates in each party are being driven toward extinction. The once powerful coalition is down to 26 members and stands to be cut in half again in 2012. So far, four members have announced they will not run for office again. Read Franco Ordonez's full analysis.

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.

Price top in N.C. earmarks

U.S. Rep. David Price was North Carolina's top solo earmarker.

According to a database compiled by the nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Chapel Hill Democrat was singlehandedly responsible for $24.3 million in earmarks in this year's spending bills.

He was followed by Reps. Heath Shuler ($14.9 million), Bob Etheridge ($11.2 million), Robin Hayes ($8.6 million) and Virginia Foxx ($7.6 million).

At the bottom of the list, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who was responsible for just $856,000 in solo earmarks.

The list shift slightly if you include earmarks requested along with other members of Congress. On that list, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole is top with $147.8 million, followed by Sen. Richard Burr ($116.2 million), Price ($90.1 million), Hayes ($43.8 million) and Rep. Mike McIntyre ($32.6 million).

Butterfield still comes in last, with $8.2 million.

Click below for North Carolina earmarks or here for the complete spreadsheet.

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