Young Businessman Eyes Heath Shuler Seat

Posted December 14, 2011 at 5:29pm

Businessman Ethan Wingfield is “seriously exploring” a bid for North Carolina’s 11th district seat. If he makes his bid official, Wingfield would be the seventh Republican to enter the primary to take on vulnerable Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler (D).

In an interview with Roll Call, Wingfield said he was gauging his support in the district, which includes most of the western part of the Tar Heel State. He will make a decision on a run in the next few weeks.

Wingfield, a 26-year-old graduate of Brown University, was most recently a strategic consultant for Capital One bank. He has the potential to be a partial self-funder.

He knocked Shuler for making himself “into a minority member of the minority party in the House in a way that limits his ability to do good things for the district” and said the district was ready for a new Congressman.

The GOP-controlled Legislature gerrymandered Shuler’s district to make it substantially more Republican. Roll Call rates the race a Tossup.

Wingfield, who would face a number of serious, credible candidates if he jumps in the race, appeared to position himself as a conservative, anti-establishment figure. “I’m going ask people … ‘What has the establishment Republican Party done for you in the last 20 years?’” he said, emphasizing the word establishment. “I think the answer is: not much.”

Top contenders in the primary already include district attorney Jeff Hunt, real estate investor Mark Meadows and tea-party-affiliated ophthalmologist Dan Eichenbaum.

Wingfield was born in Charlotte and raised in Western North Carolina, and he lives in Buncome County.