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Race To Replace Helms Is Starting To Heat Up

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms has drawn nearly 12 candidates.

Elizabeth Dole, who donned an apron and bagged merchandise for customers at the Pride for Parents thrift shop in Raleigh Wednesday, is one of seven candidates seeking the Republican party nomination.

"It's going to be a busy year for all of us, and we'll be out there discussing the issues, going through the process, and I think it will be a lot of hard work," she said.

Bill Peaslee, who works with the state's Republican party, said it is too early to worry about too many candidates for the job.

"We're not too worried about there being too many candidates, plus the filing period hasn't opened yet and some people who are saying they are running now may not end up running, and there may be some people who join the race before the filing period closes," Peaslee said.

Democratic nominee Elaine Marshall rang the bell for the Salvation Army Wednesday at a Raleigh shopping center. She is currently competing against three other Democrats for the nomination while working full-time as secretary of state.

"I am juggling the ball the best I can. Hopefully, things are functioning very well," she said.

Scott Falmlen, who works with the state's Democratic party, said he wants to keep the candidates focused on the issues.

"If we can do that, we will come out with a very strong candidate for the primary, and we will come out with the next U.S. senator," he said.

Marshall, along with Erskine Bowles, Dan Blue and Cynthia Brown, are running for the Democratic nomination. Tim Cook, Ada Fisher, Jim Parker, Doug Sellers, Jim Snyder, Venkat Challa, along with Dole, are running for the Republican nomination.

The filing period for the office does not open for another two months.