Local News

Former Helms opponent remembers 1972 senate race

Posted July 4, 2008 5:05 p.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2008 3:55 p.m. EDT

— In 1972, Jesse Helms defeated Durham Democrat Nicholas Galifianakis in a U.S. Senate race that went on to shape the state’s politics for decades to come.

“I think he got a lot of admiration for telling it like it is and I think there was some appreciation for that,” Galifianakis, a former representative, said of his opponent Friday.

Helms, 86, died early Friday morning in Raleigh. His cause of death was not released.

During the 1972 election, Galifianakis said Helms was raising big money. The Republican was also a master of television, he remembered.

“I think he had concluded that you reach the largest number of people through that media. Whereas in my campaign, I was getting up at 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. and going to factories and trying to meet people,” Galifianakis said.

At one point CBS news called the election for Galifianakis, prompting him to receive telegrams of congratulations from Ted Kennedy and others. Galifianakis said he never realized just how much the outcome would shape the state’s politics.

Galifianakis, a lawyer in Durham, said he is working with a local author on a book about the 1972 election.