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North Carolina: Shuler Chief Eyeing Open Seat

Hayden Rogers, Rep. Heath Shuler’s (D-N.C.) longtime chief of staff, is considering running for his boss’ seat now that Shuler has announced his retirement.

A source familiar with Rogers’ thinking told Roll Call that he has been approached about a run and is considering it.

Shuler announced this afternoon that he will retire at the end of the 112th Congress.

The Republican-controlled state Legislature redrew Shuler’s western district to be considerably more Republican. The Democratic bench in the 11th district is exceedingly thin, as there are very few Democrats who could appeal to conservative-leaning independents as Shuler has been able to do.

Rogers, who lives in the district with his family, has a similar political profile to Shuler, North Carolina Democrats said. Of course, he’s not as well-known as the Congressman. In a district that would have voted more than 58 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election, however, any candidate with a “D” after his name on the ballot will likely face an uphill slog.

Rogers would have a “smaller path than Heath,” one North Carolina Democratic operative said, “but with Shuler’s full backing, it is possible.”

“Not easy, but possible,” the source added. “Rogers is the best available option for North Carolina Democrats.”

The Tar Heel State Legislature crunched the numbers on the newly drawn district, and they paint a stark picture for Democrats. Under the new map, the 11th would have voted:

  • 61 percent for Sen. Richard Burr (R) in 2010
  • 40 percent for Barack Obama (D) in 2008
  • 45 percent for Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in 2008
  • 64 percent for George W. Bush (R) in 2004

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