Local News

Aftermath Of Democratic Takeover Still Felt As Dole Visits N.C.

Posted November 17, 2006 7:55 a.m. EST

— Human tragedy clearly took precedence over politics on Friday as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole toured the aftermath of Thursday's Columbus County tornado. Nonetheless, Dole still feels the sting despite being 10 days removed from a Democratic takeover of Capitol Hill.

"We worked very hard," Dole said. "It was a horrendous national environment."

As chair of the Republican National Senatorial Committee, it was Dole's job to recruit candidates and raise money. Despite her efforts, Republicans lost control of both the U.S. House and Senate.

Republican political consultant Tom Fetzer blamed the GOP's losses on the war in Iraq, as well as a Democratic tidal wave that no one person could stop.

"I don't think anybody's going to hold it against her, and it has nothing to do with her electability," Fetzer said.

The other criticism leveled against Dole has been her absence from her adopted home state. Aside from her trip to Columbus County, critics have argued her visits to North Carolina have been few and far between.

"We just think she should be in North Carolina more often," said N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek. "She should be speaking for North Carolinians rather than speaking for the national party."

"If you look at the important things to the state of North Carolina, she's there every time," Fetzer said.

Democrats disagree, and Meek is already searching for a potential challenger for Dole in 2008. Two of the top names discussed -- former Gov. Jim Hunt and current Gov. Mike Easley -- have not expressed interest in running.

"They need to quit coming to me, because I just would not fit in the Senate very well," Easley said.

Still, Democratic leaders hope the 2006 election results show Dole is vulnerable.

"She is not vulnerable, and for the Democrats to think she is, I think is wishful thinking and whistling in the dark," Fetzer said.