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Rep. Bob Etheridge Can't Just Listen to Constituents 'Til the Cows Come Home

4:55 PM, Sep 13, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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When we last saw seven-term Congressman Bob Etheridge of North Carolina, he was helping a young man with a video camera understand that American voters must be prepared to explain themselves to elected officials before asking questions of them in public. The fact that he helped the young man understand this by jacking him up by the collar caused a certain amount of controversy, and Etheridge later apologized for the heavy-handed civics lesson. (Video of the incident, here.)

Rep. Bob Etheridge Can't Just Listen to Constituents 'Til the Cows Come Home

The tussle and ensuing bad press created an opportunity for Renee Ellmers, a nurse* from Dunn to become a townhall-protester-turned-competitive-candidate. There's not much polling in the district, but a poll done in June showed Ellmers in a dead heat with Etheridge in the immediate aftermath of Etheridge's run-in with the college student. (*This is corrected to reflect that Ellmers is a nurse, not a nurse-turned-doctor. I simply misread her bio. Her husband is a doctor.)

Since then, Ellmers has been motoring around the district, trying to bump up name recognition and fundraising against her better-funded opposition (Etheridge has more than a million cash on hand).

Etheridge, on the other hand, is apparently trying to increase his reputation for evasion. The Congressman was in his district to field questions for a small crowd in a small study at a library. The crowd was small, apparently because Etheridge didn't do a lot to let people know he'd be there. ("His office typically relies on mailed post cards to advertise the meeting, but limits associated with the upcoming election curbed that avenue this year.")

Etheridge then left the event an hour early, leaving only his staff behind, because he got word from his wife Faye that his cows had gotten out. As one local blogger put it, "Bob Etheridge presumably spends extended periods living in DC, so one would assume a standard procedure for caring for his cows in his absence would be in place."

It seems the only way Etheridge will engage with constituents is if they're sitting on the fence of his cowpen, assuring bovine security, while explaining exactly who they are and where they're from.

Well, the man can't just be expected to answer constituent concerns until the cows come home, can he?

Flashback: Baron Hill's snooty, entitled behavior at a town hall becomes his opponent's attack ad.

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