Three of North Carolinas newest members of Congress have another distinction theyre the states richest.
The three Republicans Robert Pittenger of the 9th District, Mark Meadows of the 11th and George Holding of the 13th have the highest average net incomes in the states U.S. House delegation, according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Pittenger, a Charlotte real estate investor, tops the list of all North Carolina lawmakers with an average net worth of $33.6 million, according to the center.
That ranks him 19th wealthiest in the 435-member House.
Personal wealth helped candidates such as Pittenger, who raised more than $3.2 million for his campaign. According to the center, the average House candidate raised $1.1 million.
In the Senate, Democrat Kay Hagan ranked 14th of 100 members with an average net worth of $17.8 million. Republican Richard Burr was 51st with an average worth of $2.1 million.
Lawmakers report their worth, like their assets and liabilities, in ranges. The center used the range to calculate averages.
Along with both senators, eight of North Carolinas 13 U.S. House members have an average worth of more than $1 million.
That puts most of them above their colleagues. The median net worth of a House member in 2011 was $856,000; in the Senate it was $2.5 million.
And it puts them way ahead of most Americans. Census figures show the median net worth of the typical household is $66,740, the center said.
Members of Congress make $174,000 a year.
While America continues to claw its way back to economic stability, voters have nevertheless chosen to elect new members of Congress who have already made it big, said Sheila Krumholz, the centers executive director. Apparently we dont want people who look like us, financially speaking.
Their wealth helped the states three House freshmen win office.
• Pittenger gave or loaned his campaign $2.3 million. Only four House candidates in the country gave themselves more, according to the center.
That helped him outspend a crowded primary field and win a runoff against former Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph.
• Meadows, a Highlands businessman, loaned his campaign $255,000 in raising more than $1 million. His opponent, Democrat Hayden Rogers, raised $746,000.
• Holding, a former federal prosecutor, loaned his campaign $325,000. But he also benefited from a super-PAC called The American Foundations Committee. The group, funded largely by his family, spent $550,000 on his behalf.
Not everyone in the states delegation is rich.
Republican Rep. Richard Hudson of Concord, a consultant and former Capitol Hill staffer, started his first term with a net worth of $130,500. That ranked 358th in the House.
And GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers ranks 430th. Her average net worth: negative $168,000. Thats because of her liabilities, a mortgage and other loan each worth up to $500,000.
Ellmers, of Dunn, has been mentioned as a possible 2014 opponent for Hagan. Shes considering it.
We want to do whats right No. 1 for the district and No. 2 for North Carolina as a whole, she told the Observer recently. Im just trying to keep an open mind. I say my prayers every day about the issue.