A 28-year-old candidate for Congress with a record of moving from district to district — as well as past support from former President Donald Trump and deep-pocketed conservative donors — quickly drew attacks from opponents Thursday as he announced his campaign.
Bo Hines posted on social media his plans to run for the 6th Congressional District, in central North Carolina. The district is made up of Davie, Davidson, Rowan and parts of Cabarrus, Guilford and Forsyth counties. Hines’ campaign told Axios Raleigh on Thursday that Hines lives in the Charlotte area, though his voter registration lists him in Fuquay-Varina.
Both former Rep. Mark Walker and Christian Castelli, a retired lieutenant colonel, who already announced in the district, honed in on the fact that in the 2022 elections, Hines changed his mind about what district to run in. He switched from the 5th Congressional District in North Carolina’s far northwest to running in the 13th Congressional District in the Triad, then followed that 13th district to the Triangle after state lawmakers redrew the maps.
“Bo lives 100 miles from the Triad, has announced in five Congressional districts in two years, and lost to a weak Democrat last year,” said former Rep. Mark Walker — who also lives outside the district, and slightly exaggerated the record — on social media. “Bo’s dad can buy him a Yale degree, a new house in Union County and even matching Lululemon pants, but I’m confident it can’t buy this district.”
Castelli also attacked Hines.
“Bo Hines showcased his youthful indecisiveness last election cycle when he explored running in three different congressional districts, before he ultimately lost to liberal Democrat Wiley Nickel in a Republican leaning district near Raleigh,” Castelli said in a news release.
But Castelli didn’t focus his attention solely on Hines. He also attacked Walker for his own indecisiveness, which included running for governor in 2024, but then switching to a congressional run.
“Mark Walker, on the other hand, has run for three different offices in 18 months,” Castelli said. “First, he abandoned the NC-06 congressional district rather than defend it. He instead challenged now U.S. Senator Ted Budd and ran for the U.S. Senate finishing a distant third. Then he chose to challenge conservative Lt. Governor Mark Robinson for the GOP nomination for governor, but abandoned that race when it became clear he would lose again. And now Mark Walker is running for the NC-06 congressional district seat he abandoned because the district now favors Republicans.
“The people of the 6th congressional district deserve better than being an afterthought or consolation prize for professional politicians,” Castelli added.
6th District’s changing boundaries
The 6th Congressional District has been through a lot since Walker first won his election in 2014, beating the son and namesake of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
Walker, a former music minister from Greensboro, took office in 2015 and represented the district until January 2021. For most of his tenure, it was made up of Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Lee, Person, Randolph and Rockingham counties and rural parts of Guilford County.
In 2020, the 6th district was redrawn and then encompassed only Guilford and parts of Forsyth County, an area whose voters tend to lean Democrat.
Instead of trying to defend his seat, Walker walked away from the race and ran for Senate, where he ultimately lost.
Meanwhile, Rep. Kathy Manning, a Democrat from Greensboro, succeeded Walker.
But last month, the district was redrawn again, creating an area favorable for a Republican win, but leaving out where Walker once represented and where he lives.
Manning has not yet said whether she’s running for reelection, but the new map has opened the field to Republican candidates who also include High Point Mayor Jay Wagner and plastic surgeon Mary Ann Contogiannis.
Trump and money factors
So what is it about Hines that has his opponents so riled up?
It could be that Trump endorsed him in the 2022 election, when he failed to endorse either Walker or Castelli. In fact, Walker was blindsided when Trump visited North Carolina’s Republican convention in 2021 and announced his support for Walker’s Senate opponent, Budd.
It could be that Budd’s largest financial backer, the Club for Growth, threw in behind Hines, spending $1.5 million on his primary alone. The PAC’s donors gave Hines an additional $45,855 in the primary.
When asked Thursday morning if the Club for Growth planned to support Hines in 2024, the super PAC’s spokesman, Joe Kildea, wrote: “Nothing to announce at this time.”
So far the super PAC has only announced in North Carolina its support of Rep. Dan Bishop’s run for state attorney general.
It could also be that Hines came into the 2022 election cycle with little life experience — he worked for his mother and has a trust fund — and that at first he tried to brand himself as the next Madison Cawthorn.
Cawthorn, 28, was once a rising star in the Republican Party. But he quickly tarnished that reputation, becoming a firebrand in Congress, and racking up enough scandals that his campaign for reelection couldn’t overcome.
Cawthorn was one of the first to repost Hines’ announcement Thursday.
Watching Cawthorn’s story play out as the 2022 primary drew near, Hines distanced himself from Cawthorn.
Hines’ father played for the NFL’s Detroit Lions, and for a while it appeared that Hines would follow his father’s successes on the field, but he traded sports at N.C. State to study politics at Yale University. He would then go on to intern for Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, of South Dakota.
On Thursday, when he announced his plans, Hines put out a video showing his life on a farm and his family, including his second wife, Mary Charles.
“Our nation under Joe Biden faces a crisis of leadership, and many in the next generation of Americans — my generation — have abandoned the values that made this country great,” Hines said. “I cannot sit on the sidelines and watch the nation I love decline any further.”