Sensing vulnerability after widespread criticism of her performance as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, North Carolina Democrats are searching for a strong candidate to challenge Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008. Trouble is, despite the hit to her reputation (however bad or not-so-bad it might be), she is still popular here and considered formidable. She easily defeated Erskine Bowles four years ago, by a nine percentage point margin.
State Democrat Party Chairman Jerry Meek has taken to the Web for suggestions of candidates he might recruit. Among them are current Gov. Mike Easley (term limited out in 2008), Elizabeth Edwards, and former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith (75-years-old).