Under the Dome

In Congressional bid, Phil Berger hopes his name carries weight

Phil Berger will announce his bid for Congress on Wednesday and it’s clear he wants to wear Phil Berger’s mantle.

The one announcing his campaign is Phil Berger Jr., the son of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. But the campaign signs and logos don’t include the suffix. (It was enough to confuse Raleigh’s WNCN-TV, which featured a picture of the elder Berger with a story about the younger Berger’s bid.)

Berger Jr., the Rockingham County district attorney, is vying to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Howard Coble in the 6th Congressional District, which covers Greensboro and stretches into Durham and Orange counties. As district attorney, his voters overlapped with his father’s state Senate district near Eden, and the congressional map will overlay as well.

Berger Jr. will announce his bid at 11:30 a.m. inside the auditorium at Bethany Community Middle School, a charter school in Reidsville. He will call for more accountability in Washington, pointing to the federal health care law, and surely make the case that he’s his own man.

But Dallas Woodhouse, the younger Berger’s campaign manager, acknowledges the name is an asset. “His dad is the best conservative political brand in North Carolina,” Woodhouse said, explaining why he joined the campaign.

The elder Berger is a seven-term state senator who flirted with a bid for the U.S. Senate earlier this year. He has established himself as arguably the most powerful lawmaker in Raleigh, driving the Republican agenda in the 2013 session.

The name helps make Berger Jr. is the most prominent Republican candidate in the race, but he’s not the first or the last. At least four others are launching or seriously considering campaigns.

On the ballot next May is one place where the “junior” distinction will come into play. Woodhouse said his name will appear as “Phil Berger Jr.”