Democrats in North Carolina have searched all year for a candidate to take on Sen. Elizabeth Dole, whom they view as a fundraising powerhouse but vulnerable. Optimism has grown for Dems in the Tar Heel state after the 2006 victory of Rep. Heath Shuler and the near-removal of Republican Rep. Robin Hayes at the hands of unknown Larry Kissell (who is running again), who lost by about 300 votes last year despite raising no money and getting no help from the national party.
Several potentially viable choices turned the party down on a Dole challenge, with most of them seemingly afraid to lose their current offices or stature. After the top dozen (at least) possibilities begged off, another unknown stepped forward: former Wall Street investor Jim Neal.
But it seems that despite the surprising near-success that Kissell had, Democrats are not willing to try that strategy again with Neal. They went back to state Senator Kay Hagan, who had earlier rejected the idea, and convinced her to run against Dole.
Why? Some think it’s because Neal is gay. But as you can imagine with this situation arising with Democrats rather than Republicans, any charges of homophobia are muted.
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