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Bob Etheridge Eyeing Return to N.C. Politics

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thursday’s earthquake in North Carolina Democratic politics opened a lot of doors for politicians aspiring to higher office. Enter stage right: former Rep. Bob Etheridge (D), who lost a close race to freshman Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) in 2010.

In a telephone interview with Roll Call this morning, Etheridge, who twice ran successfully for statewide office, said he is considering three options: a gubernatorial run, another bid for the House of Representatives or going to the private sector.

“For me, it’s about what is good for my state,” he said. “I care very deeply. Ever since I was a county commissioner, state legislator and state superintendent, and in Congress, my one, single, lodestar … has been a focus on education.”

Given his passion about education, it sounded like he was most seriously considering running to succeed retiring Gov. Beverly Perdue (D).

Asked if he was leaning more toward a gubernatorial run than seeking a return to Congess, given that he would have a stronger hand in Tar Heel State educational policy from the governor’s mansion, Etheridge paused for a moment.

“A lot of truth in that,” he said.

Etheridge served seven terms in the House, representing the state’s central 2nd district, which included a bit of the city of Raleigh along with some counties to its east. During the redistricting process, the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew the district to make it more Republican and shored up Ellmers. Etheridge, along with Rep. Brad Miller (D), was drawn into the 4th district, currently represented by Rep. David Price (D). Miller announced Thursday that he would retire instead of taking on Price in a primary. In a conference call with reporters, Miller left the door open to a gubernatorial bid. But it was Etheridge who seemed most interested in a statewide run.

“I’ve had a lot of calls from friends across North Carolina,” he said. “North Carolina, if you look at our state politically, it’s always been true that whoever carries eastern North Carolina becomes governor of North Carolina.”

The former Member said he had spoken at length with his wife Thursday night and hadn’t yet come to a final decision. But he is cognizant that the Feb. 29 filing deadline is quickly approaching.

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