Duke law professors lauded their former colleague Deborah Ross, a North Carolina candidate for U.S. Senate, as “thoughtful’, “professional” and “prepared."

Ross—the Democratic candidate against Republican incumbent Richard Burr—previously served as a state House legislator for 10 years before deciding to run for Senate. Her campaign has focused on economic security and increasing ethics and accountability in Washington.

“She’s the kind of person that people should be able to work with,” professor of law Paul Haagen said. “She just always struck you as the person that was well prepared, straightforward. There wasn’t any deviousness about her... I would suspect she’s the kind of person who would be unusually good at finding tactical common ground, that she would come into situations really well informed.”

Ross worked at the Law School from 2002 to 2012 as a senior lecturing fellow and taught the course “U.S. Legal Analysis, Research and Writing for International Students." Previously, Ross worked as the director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. While teaching at Duke, she also started her career in the North Carolina House of Representatives, serving from 2002 to 2013.

In addition, she worked as a legal counsel at GoTriangle, the Research Triangle's transit department, but stepped down for the Senate race. She has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, the North Carolina Association of Educators and the North Carolina chapter of the AFL-CIO, a labor organization. 

According to Project Vote Smart, a website compiling politicians' votes and policy stances, some of her stances include protecting Medicare and Social Security, gun control and environmental conservation. She has also expressed support for Affordable Care Act—popularly known as ObamaCare—state exchanges to be allowed to provide abortion services.  

Jennifer Maher, associate dean for international studies at the Law School, hired Ross, along with other professors, to teach legal analysis to international students.

“Deborah was an excellent member of the team,” Maher wrote in an email. “She is very smart, very organized and a very good communicator. She can get more done in less time than anyone I've ever met. She is decisive and comfortable in a leadership position, yet she also listens and was very much liked by students.”

According to the RealClearPolitics poll average, Ross is behind Burr by 3.3 points.

Donald Beskind, professor of the practice of law, also praised Ross. He noted that he knew Ross when she worked at the ACLU of North Carolina and continuously since then. He and his wife have been political supporters of Ross by hosting fundraisers in their home for Ross, he said.

“I would say the strongest characteristics are she is incredibly smart and incredibly energetic and is remarkably good at forging collaborative alliances to accomplish things,” Beskind said.

Rima Idzelis and Phyllis Lile-King, both senior lecturing fellows at the Law School who worked with Ross as part of the team that taught legal writing to international students, noted Ross's intelligence.

“That Deborah taught legal writing and analysis here at Duke sets her apart from others who perhaps are not as skilled in their communication and writing,” Lile-King wrote in an email. “As a legislator, who is tasked with making and writing the law, these skills are essential and will serve her well, if she is elected.”

Lile-King added that Ross would bring “sensitivity, preparedness and thoughtfulness” to the Senate and that she is an “outsanding legal communicator” with the ability to draft clear laws.

Ross's dedication to assisting students will transfer into her work as senator, if chosen, Idezelis noted.

“I think she will bring with her to the Senate, if elected, the same enthusiasm for making a difference in people's lives and commitment to helping others,” Idzelis wrote.