What does it mean when a high-profile Republican office-holder -- never defeated for election -- challenges another high-profile Republican office-holder, blaming the rotten national economy for her decision?
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Kitty Barnes, 60, 1st elected in 1998, says she will challenge N.C. Sen. Austin Allran in the May Republican primary. Allran, 55, has held his N.C. Senate seat since 1981 ... 26 years.
Saith the Kitty: "Our region has been especially hit hard in recent times due to the restructuring of our national economy. We need new leadership in Raleigh that understands our challenges here at home. We cannot just sit back and wait for the future. We have to better plan and focus on building the partnerships we need to bring new and better paying jobs to western North Carolina."
That's a two-for-one rebuke ... to the Republican administration in Washington and to the job Allran's been doing in Raleigh.
"This is not helping when you've got an incumbent in Allran being challenged by another elected official. It can't help the current situation. I think this will further divide our party," said fellow Republican and N.C. House member Mark Hilton.
Hilton was talking about lingering bitterness over the way Little Patty McHenry beat Sheriff David Huffman in the 2004 Republican primary for U.S. Congress.