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Accidental Airing of Wicker Campaign Ad Heats Up Lukewarm Governor's Race

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RALEIGH — A television ad that was mistakenly aired by one North Carolina television station has put Lt. Governor Dennis Wicker's campaign for governor on the defensive.

The ad, which at first the Wicker campaign would not even admit existed, played on WCTI-TV in New Bern.

The ad is noteworthy because it turns the relatively mild campaign negative. It appears to try and drive a wedge between Wicker's main opponent -- Mike Easley -- and the black community.

The ad reminds voters that Easley ran against Harvey Gantt for the U.S. Senate 10 years ago and forced Gantt into a runoff.

Gantt says he believes the ad's message is aimed at African Americans. He calls the ad inaccurate and says it tried to confuse black voters, who are key to the democratic primary.

Wicker refused comment, but spokesman Mark Stinneford says the campaign stands by its ad.

"I regret that people knew about it before we had made a decision whether to run it or not," he says. "But, you know, we will stand by whatever we run, and we will stand by the contentions we make in the ad. And we think it raises very serious questions that progressive voters need to think about."

For his part, Easley says he is shocked, that he never expected this.

Can we expect more attack ads between now and the election?

"As you know, campaigns produce a lot of ads. There are other ads we've produced, and we won't talk about until they run," Stinneford says.

North Carolina's primary election is May 2.

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David Crabtree, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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