RALEIGH, N.C. — There is plenty of speculation of who may end up in the Governor's Mansion in 2008.
The Democratic officials feel they have three strong potential candidates and they all come from the Council of State -- Attorney General Roy Cooper, State Treasurer Richard Moore and Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue.
"That's a pretty powerful trio and Republicans don't seem to have one, but things change," Democratic consultant Mac McCorkle said.
There are also a number of contenders on the Republican side.
Patrick Ballantine, who lost to Easley in this year's election, could run again. There is also Jim Cain, former president of the Carolina Hurricanes. Cain is a friend of President George W. Bush, who raised $3 million for his campaign.
Developer and Johnston County state Sen. Fred Smith's name keeps surfacing as well.
"I have a strong feeling someone will emerge we aren't even talking about yet. That's not even the subject of remote speculation," Republican strategist Tom Fetzer said.
Strategists said aside from Ballantine, any other Republicans seeking to end up in the Governor's Mansion would start out virtually unknown, getting the name recognition they need would be a challenging and expensive endeavor.
Like all the Democratic prospects, Moore has name recognition. He said four years is a long time off, but he gets asked all the time if he will run.
"What's gotten me to the position of being a serious candidate for a very flattering office is doing the best job I can do in the job I have and the politics will take care of itself," he said.
Under North Carolina law, Easley is not able to run for governor in 2008 since a governor can only serve two terms consecutively.