Bob Etheridge should be facing a tough re-election in his central North Carolina, Republican-leaning 2nd U.S House District. But in all likelihood he will cruise to an easy victory against Sarah Palin-backed Republican Renee Ellmers this November.
Candidates for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes Chatham, Cumberland, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Nash, Sampson, Vance and Wake counties along with part of Raleigh, Smithfield, Clinton and Sanford. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Bob Etheridge
Political experience: Etheridge is the incumbent representative for the district, and has been since 1997. He was county commissioner for Hartnett County and served on the North Carolina General Assembly and as state superintendent of Public Instruction.
Professional experience: Etheridge has been a part-time tobacco farmer and served two years in the U.S. Army.
Key issues: Etheridge wants to see every student receive an equal opportunity at a college education after high school. He wants to increase the amount of federal loans and reduce college tuition costs, while providing tax breaks for those who want to improve their skills or earn a degree.
On his website, Etheridge notes that he sponsored the 21st Century G.I. Bill, which covers the cost of a four-year college education. He says U.S. troops deserve the best veteran health care facilities and disability services possible. He says that first responders must be respected and protected, too.
Endorsements: The Sierra Club has endorsed Etheridge.
Chances of maintaining his seat: In June, Etheridge had to apologize getting too physical with one of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government project interviewees, an event that didn’t exactly reflect well on him in this video. Just the same, it looks as though Etheridge will likely be re-elected. His opponent has virtually no funds left to run a campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, with Etheridge commanding $1,208,055 to Ellmers’ meager $45,860.
Candidate: Renee Ellmers
Political experience: Ellmers served as vice president of Community Development for the Chamber of Commerce in Dunn, N.C., and became president-elect of the Chamber. She has served on the Dunn Planning Board, the board of the Betsy Johnson Hospital Foundation and the Harnett County Nursing Home Committee.
Professional experience: Ellmers was a medical assistant and went into nursing. According to her website, she works as the clinical director at Trinity Wound Care Center in Dunn.
Key issues: Ellmers is conservative on social issues, defining pro-family as being for marriage that is “between one man and one woman.” She is pro-life, and she says on her website that she’s strongly supportive of gun rights.
Ellmers wants immigration laws to be enforced and is opposed to any form of amnesty for immigrants. She also opposes closing Gitmo, noting that Etheridge voted to close the facility.
Endorsements: Sarah Palin backs Ellmers as her most notable endorsement.
Chances of unseating Bob Etheridge: It’s not likely Ellmers will pull this off. Apart from not having much money left, a Survey USA poll gave Ellmers a slight lead in June — an unlikely lead, as it included Libertarian candidate Tom Rose. His inclusion in the poll has likely skewed the results, as the poll discloses that voters for Rose are unlikely to vote at all. Perhaps Etheridge may find himself in a close race, but nothing points to an upset yet.
Key Differences between Renee Ellmers and Bob Etheridge
Jobs: Ellmers states that the stimulus plan, bailouts and running up the deficit hasn’t brought jobs back, nor have the health care and cap and trade bills. She says that stopping tax increases, cutting spending and cutting taxes are ways to stimulate the economy. Etheridge says he has sponsored legislation that helped build infrastructure and improve quality of life, while cutting taxes for 94 percent of Americans.
Health: Etheridge says he’s concerned that Social Security and Medicare are at risk, and has he fought to avoid privatization. He wants to make sure those benefits are never eroded. Ellmers believes the health care reform is not enough. She wants to lower costs and improve technology by focusing on free-market-based solutions.
North Carolina‘s 2nd U.S. Congressional District
Location: The North Carolina’s 2nd District is located in the center of the state and includes central and southern Raleigh, as well as the cities of Smithfield, Clinton and Sanford.
2008 results: Etheridge received 67 percent of the vote to Republican Dan Mansell’s 31 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 57.5 percent of the district is white, 28.5 percent black, 10.8 percent Hispanic, 1.1 percent Asian, and .4 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the North Carolina 2nd District a rating of R+2, awarding a slight edge to Republican candidates in this district.