Is N.C.’s Pittenger Republican enough to withstand tea party challenge?

WASHINGTON — A year ago, North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger strode into Washington with a plan to stop the war between the parties. He wanted to instill some “humanity” into a dysfunctional city where Republicans and Democrats sometimes can barely look at each other.

The Charlotte Republican started a bipartisan freshman caucus whose mission was to help reshape Washington. The group still meets, but has largely dropped from the spotlight. Pittenger now has firsthand experience of the limitations any new members face trying to make a mark when they’re one of 435 members – let alone freshmen, who sit at the bottom of the totem poll.

“You have to find out, ‘Where can I make a difference?’ ” Pittenger said.

Political scholars in North Carolina give Pittenger relatively high marks for his first year, a “solid B” to an A minus.

He’s not done anything spectacular and stuck primarily to the mainstream Republican line. He hasn’t drawn much negative attention to himself – except for one big hiccup during the shutdown debacle.

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