For football fans, it is the Cleveland Browns—a team where flashy, first-round quarterbacks are put to pasture. Highly touted Heisman Trophy winners like Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Baker Mayfield have all languished there under a weak offensive line and lack of overall cohesion.
In politics, it is the Republican Party—which, despite facing one of the most radical and objectively bad presidential administrations in all of U.S. history, has turned a widely anticipated red wave midterm election into an uncomfortably close showdown for control of Congress.
Much of that hinges on the selection of untested celebrity candidates like TV quack Mehmet Oz and former Heisman winner Herschel Walker, whose fame has been unable to compensate for their shortcomings on the campaign trail.
But in their upcoming seasons, both the Browns and the GOP may have found secret weapons in the form of fully developed, game-ready playmakers whose careful vetting could make all the difference.
For the Browns, interim starting QB Jacoby Brissett has the opportunity to shine after six years of paying his dues as a journeyman backup, with the team’s blockbuster off-season acquisition, Deshaun Watson, serving an 11-game suspension over sexual harassment allegations.
And in politics, the former N.C. State standout’s one-time teammate, Bo Hines, brings with him a similar work ethic as the GOP nominee for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District.
In this NEXT edition of being ONE. DAY. CLOSER to the return of @PackFootball,
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Hines told Headline USA in an exclusive interview that, although he and Brissett keep in touch only “sporadically,” he expected great things from his ex-Pack mate, who once knocked off a fencepost with a football at the Hines’s family home in Charlotte.
“I think he’s gonna have a great year,” Hines said. “I’m excited for him that he gets to start there, and I think he is an NFL starting quarterback—he just needs the time to illustrate it.”
FROM WOLFPACK TO SUPER-PACS
As for Hines, who turned 27 on Monday, a series of injuries that ended his hopes of an NFL career proved to be the Republican Party’s gain.
Already, he has faced trial by fire in a hotly contested May 17 primary race.
“We got through what I believe is the most expensive congressional race in state history,” he said, noting that he was outspent in the race but relied on grassroots outreach to connect with voters.
After emerging “relatively unscathed” and managing to unify his former GOP rivals behind his campaign, he now faces a radical Marxist opponent, Wiley Nickel, “who used to be the self-proclaimed most liberal member of the state senate,” Hines said.
“This is one of the bellwether races in the country, not just in the state, and I think that the money that’s being laid down illustrates that at this point,” Hines said.
That includes some $8.5 million in ad buys from unaffiliated super-PACs supporting his campaign.
Hines himself is on pace to raise a million dollars in the current fiscal quarter, and he expects that total will be close to $2.5 million when all is said and done.
“I think I will be one of the highest raisers in the country on the Right,” he said.
Helping him along is Club for Growth, a political powerhouse with a $100+ million war chest, known for its impeccable track-record in selecting winning candidates.
It is focused on developing a depth of future talent to avoid some of the recent pratfalls and rookie errors that have hurt the GOP’s prospects as the party recruits political outsiders to challenge the D.C. Establishment.
In the upcoming midterm election, Hines is one of the rare few to receive a trifecta of endorsements from Club for Growth, the House Freedom Caucus and former President Donald Trump.
EMPHASIS ON ISSUES
Notwithstanding his broad GOP support and apparent polling advantage in the recently redrawn district, Hines’s campaign is taking nothing for granted.
A similar bellwether race in a New York special election on Aug. 23 saw Democrat Pat Ryan use the abortion issue as a political bludgeon on Republican contender Marc Molinaro, edging out Molinaro by about 2.3 percentage points in what was projected to be a GOP win.
“Democrats are gonna make this entire election cycle about one social issue—and at least in our district we don’t feel like that’s gonna play well,” Hines said. “You look at the polling and you look at what the top-line issues are for these voters, that falls maybe fourth or fifth.”
As in football, the best defense is a good offense. Following the success of Republican Glenn Youngkin in Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial race, Hines said he plans to confront Nickel on more pressing issues like the economy, violent crime, school indoctrination and critical race theory.
“We’re gonna make sure we tell his story to voters and make sure they know what he actually believes and what he’s fighting for—whether it’s for defunding the police to pushing CRT in schools,” Hines said. “We feel like we have a winning message in our district and people are starting to resonate with us and our campaign.”
Nonetheless, Hines, a devout Christian, does not plan to concede any ground to his far-left opponent on abortion.
“We don’t need to run away from this issue,” he said. “We need to be pulling at the fact that Democrats … are much more radical on abortion than we are.”
“When they start talking about a baby out of the womb that they let suffocate basically in a room by itself—I mean, I don’t know who would support that in this country,” Hines said.
CONNECTING WITH VOTERS
Even though he may be a first-time candidate, Hines touts his past experience as something that distinguishes him from other political neophytes.
His dad, former Detroit Lion Todd Hines—has launched several successful business ventures including a licensed-apparel company, a real-estate development company and an exotic-car dealership.
Hines said his early exposure to the field of business helped lead him to his future political calling.
“I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and we got to work with different governmental agencies and bureaucrats and things of that nature,” he told Headline USA. “… And that’s what sparked my interest into politics, honestly, just seeing a lot of the hurdles that we had to jump through with our family business.”
However, he also was quick to boast of his family’s humble roots to explain why he can so readily connect with rural voters in a diverse district that encompasses both vast swaths of farmland and a portion of the Raleigh metropolitan region.
“It’s easier for me on the agriculture side,” he said. “My mom’s parents are hog farmers—spent a lot of my summers up there. My dad grew up on a poultry farm in northern Indiana.”
Taking his message to suburban moms on the other side of his district has been more of a challenge, but Hines said honesty was the best policy.
“They just want to look you in the eye and know that you’re telling them the truth—and I think that’s something that you have to do in order to win a tight race like this,” he said.
Just like football, a good ground game is important—and for Hines that meant connecting with voters themselves in addition to the big-money donors.
“We did home gatherings of 30 to 40 people,” he said. “These weren’t fundraisers—these were ‘We’re gonna grill burgers and talk to you for 2½ hours.'”
A FARM LEAGUE OF RISING GOP STARS
In addition to integrating himself into the community he hopes to represent, Hines said he’s already been working on coalition-building among what he hopes will be a strong freshman class for the 118th Congress.
Missing from the list was another 27-year-old North Carolina conservative, Rep. Madison Cawthorn.
Hines said he had hoped to make Cawthorn an ally, but that the two had little in common besides the obvious.
“I honestly don’t know Madison that well. We probably met less times than I can count on two hands,” he said. “Our similarities kind of end at the point that we’re both young from the same state and obviously we share some of the same conservative ideals, but we’re drastically different people.”
Ultimately, Cawthorn’s ordeal offered something of a cautionary tale, for younger candidates in particular, about the need to maintain focus and discipline—and to never underestimate one’s competition.
“They’re gonna take anything that you say out of context and they’re gonna try and use it against you—we’ve already seen it in our race—but that shouldn’t be shocking,” Hines said.
“If you’re fighting the beast every day, the beast is eventually gonna try to strike back, and that just means you have to be very disciplined,” he continued. “We take that to heart—there is no room for error. Especially in your personal life and places like that, you just have to be disciplined to the cause and understand what you’re up against, because they will exploit anything they can.”
Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at truthsocial.com/@bensellers.