Familiar faces from state political circles headline fundraiser for Phil Berger Jr.
Posted December 9, 2013
Updated December 10, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. will hold a fundraiser this month headlined by a powerful legislative leaders with statewide clout: his father.
State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger Sr. occupies a position on par with the governor in terms of political clout, and he appears to be putting that standing to work by headlining a fundraiser that will be hosted by several lobbyists who practice before the General Assembly.
The younger Berger is running for the 6th Congressional District, a seat currently occupied by Congressman Howard Coble, who has said he is retiring next year. Berger, thanks to his own elected position and his father's well-known political brand, might rightly be considered the frontrunner in what is sure to be a crowded primary field.
"There are many, many people from across the state, but primarily from the 6th Congressional District, who are helping in this campaign," said Dallas Woodhouse, who is managing Berger's congressional campaign.
The lists of "hosts" for the Dec. 17 event include names familiar to anyone who follows state government, including lobbyists who work to influence policy on behalf of big companies and others with interest before the legislature:
- Tom Fetzer, a former state Republican Party chairman who now lobbies for Duke Energy, Wake County and more than a dozen other clients.
- Steve Metcalf, a lobbyist for the Eastern Band of Cherokees, Toyota and others.
- Tim Kent, who heads the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.
- Mark Fleming, a lobbyist for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.
- Dana Simpson, whose client list includes Duke Energy and WakeMed.
- Harold Brubaker, a former state House speaker and budget committee chairman who now lobbies for GTECH, a provider of lottery information technology services, and clients that include the NFL Players Association and the North Carolina Association of Realtors.
- Jim Harrell, a former state lawmaker who now represents clients such as the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association, the North Carolina Dental Society and PSNC Energy.
- Chuck Fuller, president and CEO of CB Holdings, who now sits on the board of the conservative John Locke Foundation.
- Dee Stewart, who heads a political and public relations consulting practice.
- David Powers, a member of the UNC Board of Governors and vice president of state government relations for tobacco products producer RJ Reynolds.
Asked if the lists of hosts reads more like people with an interest in staying in the good graces of a powerful state lawmaker rather than people who have an interest in backing a congressional candidate, Woodhouse said, "I don't know the answer to this question. What I would say is those are all people who have an interest in good representation in Congress."
A Democratic spokesman took aim at the fundraiser.
"Phil Berger Sr. has tried for years to helicopter-parent his son into Congress, so we're not surprised that Phil Berger Jr. is piggybacking on his father's position to raise campaign cash. Voters deserve leaders focused on creating jobs for every North Carolinian, not just those with the same last name," said Ben Ray, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.
The 6th District is based in Greensboro but stretches through several counties along the Virginia border. In the Triangle, it dips into both Durham and Orange counties. It is a Republican-leaning district derisively called the "Berger Baby" by critics during the 2010-11 redistricting process.
The fundraiser will be at Cafe Luna in Raleigh, which is not in the 6th District but is a favorite fundraising spot for state legislative political committees.