Under the Dome

Dome: Etheridge looking at rematch with Ellmers

STAFF WRITERSDecember 21, 2011 

Democrat Bob Etheridge is considering running for the congressional seat he lost last year to Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers.

"I think I made a difference," he said Tuesday. "I'm like any American right now - frustrated at what is going on with the tea party folks up there. I think they have pushed our country to the brink three times this year, and lost our country its AAA bond rating as a result of that."

Etheridge represented the 2nd District for seven terms before losing to Ellmers last fall, in part because of an episode in which he grabbed a young man posing as a student - whom the National Republican Congressional Committee after the election acknowledged was an operative - who sought to question and videotape him on a Washington street.

Since then, Etheridge, 70, has worked in Raleigh overseeing the distribution of federal stimulus money. In recent months he has headed state recovery efforts for Hurricane Irene.

Etheridge, who lives in Lillington, has been moved into the 4th Congressional District under the GOP's redistricting plan. The plan puts all three Democrats who had represented the Triangle in recent years - Etheridge, David Price and Brad Miller - in the fourth. Congressional candidates are not required to live in the district where they run.

Ex-Dem chair runs for House

Keith Karlsson, a longtime Raleigh political figure, has announced his candidacy for an open state House seat. Karlsson, 61, is a former Wake County Democratic Party chairman. He ran twice for Raleigh City Council in the 1990s.

Karlsson said he's running in House District 49 because the Republican-controlled legislature has focused on "an extremist ideological agenda" rather than job creation.

Karlsson is beginning a third career in law. He's a third-year student at Campbell. He worked at IBM and Cisco for years. Before that, he taught French.

Foxx turns up the heat

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., had some of the strongest words in the saga over extending the payroll tax cut.

She saved her harshest criticism for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who had worked out the two-month extension in the Senate with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"The piece of manure that they sent over here is not worthy of our consideration," Foxx said Monday to cheers from her colleagues, according to Roll Call.

Not just Pope funding Locke

With the Republicans in power in the legislature, some of the corporate big boys are opening up their wallets to help support the John Locke Foundation, the Raleigh-based conservative think tank that provides ideas and other support for the GOP lawmakers. Banks, insurance companies, tobacco manufacturers, beer distributors, accounting firms and others are among the sponsors for the Locke Foundation's annual dinner to be held Jan. 21 at the North Ridge Country Club.

The executive sponsors for the dinner, who give $10,000 each, include the BB&T Corp., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, CaptiveAire, K.P.B. Corp., and New Breed Logistics Inc. Listed above those companies on the invitation, although it is not clear how much it gave, was Reynolds American Inc.

The featured speaker is Brit Hume, a political analyst for the Fox News Channel. Ellmers is being honored, along with Lisa Baldwin, a member of the Buncombe County school board.

The Locke foundation was started by Raleigh businessman Art Pope.

rchristensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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