Local Politics

State Dems Eye Dole's Senate Seat

Posted March 5, 2007
Updated March 6, 2007

— North Carolina Democrats are gearing up for a 2008 run at the U.S. Senate seat held by Elizabeth Dole.

Although Dole has national appeal, lofty name recognition and a powerful political network, after last year's Republican collapse in Congress and growing frustration over the war in Iraq, Democrats think she is beatable.

A recent poll commissioned by the Democratic Party shows 49 percent of people think Dole is doing a good or excellent job, but only 35 percent of those surveyed said they would support her in the next election.

"When you have an incumbent with re-elect numbers under 50 percent and approval numbers under 50 percent, it's a sign of danger," Democratic strategist Morgan Jackson said.

That means big donors are actively searching for a new senator to back, Jackson said.

"One of the top things off their lips is who's going to be our candidate in 2008," he said.

Not long ago, Dole was so popular that taking her on would have been political suicide. Republicans downplayed the poll results, saying Democrats are grasping for any sign of weakness to get someone to challenge her.

"I think they recognize that she'd be difficult to beat and she's done a good job for North Carolina. That's why I think they're struggling to get candidates in the race," GOP strategist Mark Stephens said.

Most of the names dropped as potential Dole contenders haven't yet shown public interest:

  • Gov. Mike Easley has repeatedly said he's not the Senate type.
  • Some Democrats would like to see State Treasurer Richard Moore stay out of the governor's race to take on Dole, but he is apparently intent on beating Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue.
  • Attorney General Roy Cooper said he plans to run for another term.
  • Congressmen Bob Etheridge, David Price and Brad Miller; Gen. Hugh Shelton, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman; and state Sen. Kay Hagan of Guilford County also have been mentioned as possible candidates.

For now, it's still Dole's race to lose. But Democrats said they expect challengers will start emerging by the early fall.

"I think, as you see her numbers dip, more of these folks will take a much harder look at this race," Jackson said.


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  • icmfal Mar 6, 2007

    I cannot believe that 49% of this state support her. I cannot think of a thing that she has done for this state or for the people in this state or country. She cannot even find the time to respond to emails / letters that are sent to her. Burr for all of his uselessness, at least responds to the letter / email written stating that he is responding how bush wants him to. Both of them are Bush hacks.

  • mrcritic Mar 6, 2007

    the world will be a better place when it's realized that they all lie

  • Bob3425 Mar 6, 2007

    I have to agree with everyone, Dole has done nothing for NC. She needs to go or stay away.

  • beachbum1 Mar 6, 2007

    Boot her, she doesn't even live in NC! She's a straight party voter no matter what and a Bush backer no matter what.

  • sstone5 Mar 6, 2007

    If you have had experience with Medicare Part D, you will vote against Dole., She, Burr, and their fellow republicans put that through, and anyone that has spent to the "gap" knows what a rip off that is (paying 100% for prescriptions PLUS the monthly premium)

  • d1_standing Mar 6, 2007

    Senator Dole is still standing by the President contrary to what to the fact that we have lost Iraq. She is loyal to the point of it being a fault. She is clueless!

  • paperairplane26 Mar 6, 2007

    What has Dole done for NC? Nothing, as far as I can tell. She hasn't taken a stand on any issues for us. She hasn't helped us when we have needed Hurricane relief money, and she hasn't taken a stand on the OLF which almost all of our politicians have (well, except Burr). Anyone, Dem or Republican, would be an improvement!

  • capefearwx Mar 6, 2007

    I'm no fan of Dole, but at the same time I'd like to know more about her potential opposition. The only ones in this article I know much about (and would likely vote for, based on what I know of them) are Price and Easley - neither of whom I see running for senate any time soon. I think if Bowles were planning on running again we would have heard SOMETHING by now; besides, he's got a pretty good job at the moment. I'd like to see Dole out, but I'm still waiting for strong opposing candidates to emerge, and am sort of surprised this hasn't happened yet.

  • wlm Mar 6, 2007

    Senator Dole has done an excellent job of representing NC values in Washington! With so many ultra-liberal women US Senators like Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein (California), we need Elizabeth Dole to provide some balance in the US Senate.

  • woody Mar 5, 2007

    i never tell lies about liberals
    dont have to
    if can be done they have done it