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Bob Etheridge
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by David Funderburk
Succeeded by Renee Ellmers
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction

In office
Governor James G. Martin
Jim Hunt
Preceded by A. Craig Phillips
Succeeded by Michael E. Ward
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives

In office
Personal details
Born Bobby Ray Etheridge
August 7, 1941(1941-08-07) (age 80)
Sampson County, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Faye Etheridge
Residence Lillington, North Carolina
Alma mater Campbell University
Occupation Politician
Religion Presbyterian
Website U.S. Representative Bob Etheridge
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1965–1967

Bobby Ray "Bob" Etheridge (born August 7, 1941) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 2nd congressional district from 1997 to 2011. He is currently the executive director of the North Carolina office of the U.S. Farm Service Agency.[1]

He previously served as a county commissioner, state representative and state superintendent of public instruction. He is a member of the Democratic Party and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of North Carolina in 2012.[2]

Early life, education, and early career[]

Born in Sampson County, North Carolina, Etheridge attended the Cleveland School and was a high school basketball standout. He attended Campbell University on an athletic scholarship and became the first member of his family to earn a diploma when he received a business degree in 1965. He then served in the United States Army from 1965 to 1967.[3] He has also completed graduate work in the field of economics. Etheridge is also a part-time tobacco farmer and hardware store owner.

Early political career[]

Superintendent Bob Etheridge celebrates victory with his family on election night in 1992

Etheridge began his political career as a Harnett County commissioner from 1973 through 1976. He was then elected in 1978 to the North Carolina House of Representatives, and served five terms (1979–1988) and rose to chair the House Appropriations Committee. Having gained a reputation for his strong stances on educational issues, he was elected in 1988 and served two terms (1989–1996) as North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives[]



Ethridge ran for North Carolina's 2nd congressional district and defeated incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman David Funderburk 53%–46%.[5]


He won re-election to a second term with 57% of the vote.[6]


He won re-election to a third term with 58% of the vote.[7]


During this time period, he never won re-election with less than 65% of the vote.


Etheridge was challenged by Republican nominee Renee Ellmers and Libertarian nominee Tom Rose. Ellmers defeated Etheridge 49.5%–48.7%.[8] Etheridge contested the result and requested a recount of the vote.[9] On November 19, 2010, the State Board of Elections director Gary Bartlett confirmed Ellmers won by about 1,483 votes (0.8% margin). Later that day, Etheridge conceded the election.


Etheridge previously served on the Agriculture and Homeland Security committees. He has focused on farm issues,[10] educational matters,[11] and providing a balanced budget.

Alternative Energy

In 2006, Etheridge joined U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth in proposing increased research and development of biofuels to reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil.[12]

Health Care Reform

Etheridge voted to pass the Affordable Health Care for America Act in November 2009[13] and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[14]

"Who are you?" incident

In June 2010, Etheridge was approached by two young men on a Washington, D.C., sidewalk. The pair, who identified themselves as students working on a project, asked Etheridge if he "fully supported the Obama agenda" while videorecording his response. In the video, Etheridge first says "Who are you?" repeatedly, then is seen grabbing one of the young men by the wrists, neck, and back of the shirt, while repeatedly asking the young men who they were. The young men responded that they were "students working on a project". One of them is heard asking the congressman three times to let go of him while the Congressman continued to hold on to him.[15] Etheridge later apologized for the incident in a statement saying "I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction, and I apologize to all involved".[16] Etheridge called a press conference where he stated that there was no excuse for his actions. He refused to speculate on the motivation of those involved and said that it had been a "long day".[17] An article in the New York Times subsequently stated that unnamed "Republican political strategists acknowledge they were behind the episode."[18]

Political analysts commented on the potential effect of this confrontation on Etheridge's chances of re-election against Republican candidate Renee Ellmers.[19][20][21] Subsequently, on June 18, a 32-year-old man, Brandon Leslie, said he had been a victim of a similar incident occurring in 1996 in which Etheridge grabbed him when he was a high school student.[22] That report was later disputed by the retired principal who stated that "the student was in the wrong"; however, the principal "did not detail the nature of the exchange between Leslie and Etheridge."[23]

Committee assignments[]

111th Congress
  • Committee on the Budget
  • Committee on Ways and Means
    • Subcommittee on Trade
    • Subcommittee on Oversight

Caucus memberships[]

  • New Democrat Coalition, a moderate, pro-growth organization
  • Democratic At-Large Whip (2008–2011)

Perdue administration[]

On February 1, 2011, Governor Bev Perdue announced her appointment of Etheridge as head of the North Carolina Office of Economic Recovery and Investment, replacing Dempsey Benton, which oversees funds to the state from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[24]

2012 run for governor[]

In February 2012, Etheridge announced his candidacy for Governor of North Carolina.[2] He lost the Democratic primary to Lt. Gov. Walter H. Dalton. After Dalton lost to Pat McCrory in the general election, Etheridge came within a few votes of being elected chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party in 2013, even though he did not publicly campaign for the post.[25]

Personal life[]

Etheridge and his wife Faye have three children and eight grandchildren. They are active in their church and both teach Sunday School. For his decades-long work for the Boy Scouts of America, Etheridge was awarded the Silver Beaver Award; the highest award a Scout leader can receive.[4] He is a Freemason and has served as Grand Orator.[26]

See also[]

  • North Carolina Democratic Party


  1. Huffington Post/Associated Press
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Former Rep. Bob Etheridge to run for governor". ABC 11. February 12, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  3. Bob Etheridge (D). The Washington Post.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Biography". United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on June 8, 2010. 
  9. Miller, Sean J. (November 12, 2010). "Still trailing, Rep. etheridge calls for a recount". The Hill. Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  10. N.C. Congressman Wants Federal Disaster Relief for Farmers. WRAL. October 22, 2007.
  11. Etheridge offers bold proposal. Wilmington Morning Star. September 18, 1990.
  12. Rep. Bob Etheridge., Rep. Stephanie Herseth. The answer to our gas crisis. DeWitt Era-Enterprise. May 4, 2006.
  13. House Vote 887
  14. House Vote 167
  15. "Congressman Assaults Student on Washington Sidewalk". 
  16. Kelly, Hinchcliffe (June 14, 2010). "Congressman caught on camera in physical confrontation". Retrieved June 14, 2010. 
  17. "Etheridge talks about confrontation". Retrieved June 14, 2010. 
  18. Jim Rutenberg (November 3, 2010). "Democrats Outrun by a 2-Year G.O.P. Comeback Plan". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  19. "Poll shows Etheridge trailing after video |". June 17, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  20. Christensen, Rob (June 16, 2010). "Etheridge slip puts foe on map – Elections". Archived from the original on June 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  21. "Etheridge's District Moved To Leans Democrat - Real Clear Politics –". June 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  22. Krahnert III, John (June 18, 2010). "Former Resident Recalls Run-In With Etheridge". Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  23. O'Brien, Michael (June 6, 2010). "Principal disputes former student's allegation of run-in with Etheridge". 
  24. "Etheridge to head state's Economic Recovery & Investment office". February 1, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2011. 
  25. News & Observer: Pittsboro mayor named new Democratic party chairman Archived June 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. Carter, Ric (March–April 2006). "Farm boy makes a life of service". Archived from the original on October 23, 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2010. 

External links[]

Political offices
Preceded by
A. Craig Phillips
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction
Succeeded by
Michael E. Ward
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Funderburk
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Renee Ellmers

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