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Bowles To Run For Edwards' Senate Seat

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles will announce Thursday that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic presidential candidate JohnEdwards.

Bowles, a Democrat, is not expected to hold an event to make the announcement. But he will issue a statement or contact members of the media, consultant Mac McCorkle said.

McCorkle said the announcement should come as no surprise.

"He has been clearly signaling his intent here for some time," he said.

Bowles was the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat vacated in 2002 by Republican Jesse Helms. But he lost handily to Elizabeth Dole in the general election.

Edwards said earlier this month that he would not seek re-election to the Senate while he runs for president, which is allowed under North Carolina law.

U.S. Rep. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem is also running for the Senate seat and is considered the early GOP front-runner.

With the White House's backing, Burr has raised $1.8 million this year for the Senate race and transferred another $1.7 million from his House campaign account, according to federal election reports.

Vice President Dick Cheney attended a Raleigh fund-raiser for Burr this month.

No other Democrats have announced that they are running for Senate. But former state House speaker and Raleigh lawyer Dan Blue also is considering running.

Blue also sought the Senate seat now held by Dole. He was beaten in the Democratic primary by Bowles. He reportedly is discussing the possibility of another Senate bid with supporters and will decide by the end of September or early October.

Bowles and Dole competed in the most expensive Senate race in the country in 2002. Bowles spent $13.3 million in the race; Dole $13.6 million.

A Charlotte investment banker, Bowles spent $6.8 million from his personnel fortune on the race.

Even before Edwards bowed out of the Senate race, Bowles had spent time quietly laying the groundwork for another bid, speaking with supporters and potential campaign staff members.

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