Local News

Vinroot Pulls Out of Senate Race, Backs Dole

Posted November 6, 2001 1:37 a.m. EST

— Former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot will pull out of the U.S. Senate race Tuesday and endorse former GOP presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole in the contest.

Vinroot spokeswoman Samantha Abt confirmed Vinroot's decision, which was first reported online.

Vinroot planned to attend a joint news conference with Dole at GOP headquarters in Mecklenburg County Tuesday, Abt said. She declined to describe the reasons behind Vinroot's choice, saying Vinroot and Dole would make a joint statement later.

His decision comes amid pressure from Republican leaders to withdraw to clear the path for Dole, who is seeking the nomination to replace Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who is retiring in 2003.

Vinroot recently described a campaign against Dole as "mission impossible," a local newspaper reported.

Vinroot's decision removes the last big-name Republican opponent for Dole in next May's GOP primary.

Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, the Republican National Committee chairman, and other party leaders had urged Vinroot to step aside for Dole - a longtime Vinroot friend and political ally.

Vinroot also was having difficulty raising the estimated $3 million to $4 million needed to mount a credible primary campaign against Dole.

Investment banker Erskine Bowles' entry last month into the Democratic Party race for the Senate seat siphoned off potential campaign contributors since both he and Vinroot based their financial support in Charlotte, the country's second-largest banking city.

The Dole campaign last week released an internal statewide poll showing that Dole would defeat Vinroot by 76 percent to 14 percent.

Republicans remaining in the GOP Senate race are Lexington attorney Jim Snyder, retired Salisbury physician Ada Fisher, Lumberton radiologist Jim Parker, and Salisbury insurance agent Douglas Sellers.