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The Wilmington Journal ^ | 1/9/2004 | CASH MICHAELS

Posted on 01/11/2004 1:46:12 PM PST by JohnnyZ

Will former NC Speaker of the House Dan Blue once again mount a vigorous campaign against Democratic rival Erskine Bowles for the U.S. Senate?

After months of speculation, the answer will come the week of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Blue told The Carolinian exclusively Tuesday night.

''I think that's an appropriate time to announce my decision,'' Blue said, noting the significance of the state and federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.

''I am closer to a [final] decision.''

What that ''final decision'' is Blue won’t publicly reveal now, but there's no question the Bowles camp is nervously sweating about what it may be.

Bowles, the Charlotte investment banker and former White House chief of staff, has already begun approaching black groups like the NC Black Leadership Caucus, seeking their support, and promising strong advocacy of black issues in the Senate if elected.

''So that we can shape this campaign not at the end, but at the beginning,'' Bowles told the NCBLC three weeks ago, ''so that I can be a more effective [and] better candidate, and hopefully a better senator, when we win.''

Getting an early jump on the potential black vote and massaging it now is crucial for Bowles. He only garnered a third of the African-American vote in the 2002 Democratic primary against Blue, who came in second overall behind Bowles.

And in the November 2002 election against Republican Elizabeth Dole, Bowles lost 54-44 percent, the largest margin in a North Carolina U.S. Senate race in a quarter century. By all accounts, the black vote stayed home that election day, thus helping to cost Bowles that election, and is likely to do so again unless either Blue runs, this time against the likely GOP opponent Congressman Richard Burr, or Bowles mends fences between now and November.

What has Bowles so nervous is that Blue has sent definite signals over the past several months that a possible run looks positive, and based on his statewide travels, there is a large cadre of Blue supporters across North Carolina who want a progressive Democrat with a working class background to succeed outgoing Democratic Sen. John Edwards.

With support evident, the only thing that could trip up a Blue candidacy is money, and the lack of it. Blue mounted a cash-strapped half million dollar campaign against Bowles' multi-million warchest in 2002. Getting that amount of money again, let alone the much more he would need not only to defeat Bowles, but to go on to victory in November, is the big question mark over Blue's final decision. No money, sources say, no run.

Still, Blue, at presstime, was holding his cards close to the vest as exactly what kind of support - both financial and otherwise - he actually has for a possible second bid.

But he assures that during that King Holiday week, Blue will play that hand, choosing the card he feels will put him in the best position this time out, to serve North Carolina.

TOPICS: North Carolina; Campaign News; State and Local; U.S. Senate
KEYWORDS: danblue; electionussenate; erskinebowles; richardburr; senate2004
Charlotte banker and Clinton toadie Erskine Bowles is so scared he's talking to black people for the first time in his life.

Dan Blue was one of the more reasonable Democrats in the legislature.

1 posted on 01/11/2004 1:46:13 PM PST by JohnnyZ
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35 Iowa 220.00

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2 posted on 01/11/2004 1:49:13 PM PST by Support Free Republic (Freepers post from sun to sun, but a fundraiser bot's work is never done.)
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To: JohnnyZ
Burr's looking so good I'd rate NC second only to Georgia as a likley pickup.
3 posted on 01/12/2004 7:01:16 AM PST by Impy (Are dogcatchers really elected?)
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