"Although he lost the election, certainly he has nothing to hang his head about," said Dan Blue, Campbell's friend.
Blue said Campbell was known for his tough audits. Campbell criticized the Department of Health and Human Services for its Medicare spending and he felt the heat for his decision.
It was a tough year for Campbell personally. His mother died in August and his brother, Bill, a former Atlanta mayor, was indicted on corruption charges. All of the events collided at election time.
"It was a combination of the negative audits, Bill Campbell's trouble in Atlanta and the fact that Les Merritt is a known name around the state," said David McLennan, professor at Peace College.
Campbell made history as state auditor. He was the first and only African-American elected to the Council of State. However, history is something the Campbell family is accustomed to making.
The Campbells walked into an all-white Raleigh school. Their kitchen table, which will soon be put on display at the North Carolina Museum of History, became known as the stage for civil rights discussion.
"The Campbell family is a family of pioneers," said Shirl Spicer, of the North Carolina Museum of History.
"It's one of the strongest families that I've seen," Blue said. "That can't be undermined or eroded."
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