Local Politics

Orr Is Going for GOP Gubernatorial Nomination

The Republican former State Supreme Court justice is the first candidate to declare for the 2008 governor's race.

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A Republican is first candidate to declare for the 2008 governor's race.

Tuesday, former State Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr announced big plans for his future. After winning four statewide races for the high court, Orr now wants to be governor.

After leaving the high court, Bob Orr fought two uphill legal battles. His non-profit, the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, challenged the passage of the lottery and the tax breaks used to lure Dell Computers. As a candidate for governor, he sees himself as a reformer.

“Whether it's in the public education realm, whether it's in economic development, tax reform, ethics reform, I think the public deserves to have a full and comprehensive debate about how we move North Carolina forward on the issues,” Orr said.

At least two other Republicans are also eyeing the political prize. Salisbury Attorney Bill Graham, who led a statewide fight to lower the gas tax, and Sen. Fred Smith of Johnston County.

“One of the good things in Orr's favor coming in at this point is people haven't heard of the rest of the field,” said Andrew Taylor, an associate professor of political science at North Carolina State University.

Taylor sees Orr's judicial experience and even his lost legal battles as pluses on the political resume.

Fundraising could be a challenge, however.

“The money aspect in this day and age is troubling,” Orr said.

For Orr and other Republicans looking to be governor, the 2008 is a long way off. They hope a lot will change. They also know several factors are outside their control.

“The presidential race is going to shape a lot or this stuff. So is the U.S. Senate race,” Taylor explained.

Switching between the legislative and judicial branches of state government certainly is not unusual. Legendary U.S. Sen. Sam Ervin served on the state’s high court. Beverly Lake ran for governor in 1960. His son, I. Beverly Lake, was chief justice after serving as a state lawmaker.


Cullen Browder, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Ron Gallagher, Web Editor

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