For state gubernatorial candidates Richard Vinroot, Patrick Ballantine, Fern Shubert, Dan Barret, George Little, and Bill Cobey, the crystal ball is cloudy when it comes to the May primary.
"We have no choice. We have to play as if the primary is going to be on May 4," Cobey said.
"We certainly don't know when the primary will be and we've got to be out because the primary could be in May," Ballantine said.
Primary delay or not, Ballantine was first out of the TV box with a statewide campaign ad, stating he could turn the state around with "the hands-on, energetic leadership of a conservative governor." Cobey countered with a TV ad featuring the endorsement of former Sen. Jesse Helms.
With Gov. Mike Easley waiting in the wings, the Republicans said they must try to win support without knowing when voters will narrow their field. For some, getting out sooner is better.
"We can't wait for the courts. We can't wait for the Legislature. We just need to do what we need to do," Ballantine said.
"We just felt it was real important to be out there strong. We've been successful raising money," political consultant Bob Rosser said.
Most candidates are preparing for a marathon in hopes that money and name recognition hold out.
"The key is, 'Will the money be available in the last couple months to get the message out?'" Cobey said.
The Republicans are expected to spend millions on political ads to try and unseat the incumbent governor. The Cobey campaign is spending $100,000 on the Helms ad alone.
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