Did the exposure of the Petraeus affair help the N.C. GOP dodge a bullet?

Perhaps. Republicans and Democrats are already looking ahead to the state’s next big political contest: freshman U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s attempt in 2014 to become the first North Carolina Democrat to defend a Senate seat successfully since Sam Ervin in 1968.

As the GOP starts to chatter about potential challengers to face Hagan, TIME‘s cover story on the Petraeus affair offers an interesting nugget about Paula Broadwell, a Charlotte resident.

That evening, over drinks, she told a small group that she had been arguing with her mentor about the direction of her career. Republican moneymen, she said, had approached her about a Senate run in North Carolina. She was tempted. Petraeus, she said in an irritated tone, rejected the idea out of hand. What was her position, he asked, on abortion? Climate change? Gun control? Gay marriage? Tax cuts? Social Security vouchers? Her answers, he told her, would not fit either party, and she should not sell herself out.

Broadwell must not have said whether the decorated general and then-CIA director mentioned the likelihood that political opposition research could lead to embarrassing revelations about her personal life. As it is, the exposure of Broadwell’s affair with Petraeus means those “Republican moneymen” will be looking at other candidates to face Hagan.

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