13th Congressional District: Hines’ ambition meets crowded field

Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Bo Hines, of North Carolina, speaks to the crowd before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

RALEIGH – Bo Hines, one of eight candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the state’s 13th Congressional District, has talked frequently about making politics his career. Spending one year as a Wide Receiver for NC State’s football team, he made statements to several media outlets about running for office, saying he has aspirations of being governor and eventually president.

In December 2014, Hines announced that he was leaving NC State and transferring to Yale.  

“This has been a very tough decision for me. I love NC State and the people I have had the privilege of getting to know there… My goal is to pursue a specific career path in law and politics, and I believe that transferring to an Ivy League institution will help me reach that goal,” Hines was quoted as saying in a WRAL report at that time. 

Three years later, Hines was quoted in a Hartford Courant story saying he went to Yale for reasons behind football. He said he “loved the school and staff in Raleigh… but, ultimately I knew I wanted to have a political career and I felt like Yale would give me the best opportunity to do that one day.” 

The story said Hines originally wanted to be the 9th District Representative in Congress. 

“I’d run as a Republican, but I’m not a social conservative,” Hines said. “I call myself a social libertarian, I guess. I’m a lot more liberal on certain social issues. I think it’s part of our generation. I’m hoping the Republican Party in the future will not be so bogged down by the 80-year-olds sitting in Congress who want to regulate how people live their lives,” he said to the paper. 

A few months later, citing repeated injuries, Hines announced he was retiring from football. He told the Yale Daily News he made the decision to protect his long-term health.  

That story, published in Aug. 2017, again references his decision to attend Yale “because of the political opportunities an Ivy League degree would open for him.”   

During 2017, Hines also said that the Ivy League football players were “a lot smart smarter, so you’re not going to have blown coverages, busted coverages, you have to be on top of your game. Timing is very important because what they might not have in speed they make up for in intelligence.”

A 2015 profile of Hines in the Raleigh News & Observer quoted him saying his big political dreams would be “governor of North Carolina and the ultimate goal would be president.”

In a 2021 interview with the Yale Daily News shortly after he announced he was running for Congress, Hines alluded to the academics of Yale being superior to NC State.

“I felt the best way to learn more about politics would be to go up to Yale and challenge myself with some of the best and the brightest and surround myself with people in the academic community that I knew would challenge me,” Hines said.

He is not the only Ivy League graduate in the race. Kelly Daughtry, a Johnston County attorney, earned her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth.

According to her biography on her law firm’s website, she graduated cum laude from the northeastern school and then earned her legal degree from UNC Chapel Hill’s law school.

There is one NC State graduate in the race – Johnston County businessman DeVan Barbour. According to his Linkedin profile, Barbour earned his degree from NC State in 2006. He has the longest track record of political involvement of the candidates in the race, serving in several roles within the state’s Republican Party over the past 15 years, including as a congressional district chairman and as a delegate to the 2016 and 2020 Republican National Conventions.

Ahead of the May 17 primary, many of the candidates have avoided candidate forums. Barbour was one of four to attend the most recent one in Cary along with Chad Slotta, former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, and Kevin Wolff. Kent Keirsey and Jessica Morel are also running.

Hines, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has not attended any of the candidate forums dating back to January. His move from running for a western North Carolina seat to one bisected by Interstate 95 also drew the ire of local conservative groups, who took out ads ahead of the April 9 rally in Selma saying they couldn’t support Hines.

The Hines and Daughtry campaigns are sniping at one another in recent television advertising. An ad from Daughtry accuses Hines of becoming an aspiring career politician, noting he hasn’t worked a full-time job before running for office. Club for Growth Action, which has spent heavily on Hines’ behalf, responded by accusing Daughtry of supporting Democratic judges for office.

Campaign reports show that Daughtry supported the U.S. Senate campaign of Cheri Beasley in June of 2021, six months before running as a Republican for Congress. She also gave money to 2020 N.C. Supreme Court candidate Mark Davis, a Democrat, and Attorney General Josh Stein in 2020.

“We think North Carolinians need to know that Kelly Daughtry supported a Democrat for their Supreme Court, which allowed liberals to block Republican redistricting plans and then draw districts benefiting Democrats,” said Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh in a statement. “Kelly Daughtry has a record of being more in touch with Democrats running for office than Republican voters.”

In response, Daughtry campaign senior advisor Dee Stewart said, “Kelly Daughtry and her family are proud to have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the conservative movement and Republican Party in North Carolina over the decades. Washington insiders attacked Donald Trump the same way in 2016, because he’d given to Democrats as a businessman. Kelly is a businesswoman and more than 90% of Kelly’s donations were to Republicans.”

The Republican nominee will likely face state Sen. Wiley Nickel or former state Sen. Sam Searcy, both of Wake County, in the general election.