Bob Etheridge has served in government since 1972, beginning with a four-year stint as a Harnett County (N.C.) commissioner. He was elected to the North Carolina House in 1978, where he chaired the main budget-writing committee.
He served until 1988, when he was elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction. He was re-elected in 1992.
Etheridge was elected to the U.S. House in 1996 with 53 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Republican Rep. David Funderburk. He has won re-election every two years since.