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Bowles seeks Senate again

In a move that North Carolinians have anticipated since Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole won last November's election, Democrat Erskine Bowles will announce his candidacy for the state's other U.S. Senate seat today, the Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday on its website.

 Bowles, chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton and Charlotte investment banker, spent $13.3 million in one of the most expensive campaigns of 2002. He lost to Dole by 4 percent, and some say he has been considering another attempt since his defeat. "He has been clearly signaling his intent here for some time," Bowles consultant Mac McCorkle told The Associated Press.

 Kerry Haynie, associate professor of political science, said he suspected Bowles had been planning another attempt ever since he lost to Dole.

 "It's typical of candidates... after they lose the first time, not to bow out," Haynie said. "He has the structural framework having just run a senate race [and] he has the folks who are necessary to run a successful race."

 Bowles will likely face a prominent Republican again in next year's senate race. Rep. Richard Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, has been campaigning and fundraising throughout the summer, with support from such powerful allies as White House adviser Karl Rove.

 Ted Arrington, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said in April that Burr would probably have the advantage in a Bowles-Burr senatorial match-up, as long as President George W. Bush's approval rating is high at the time of the election.

 Political experts also suggested that Sen. John Edwards, another Democrat, would have a clear advantage over Burr. Since Edwards announced earlier this month that he will forgo another senate campaign and focus on winning his party's presidential nomination, this may just be what Bowles has been waiting for, Haynie said.

 "If Senator Edwards decides not to run for office, Erskine Bowles is going to do it," McCorkle said in April.

 Haynie said Bowles has "a reasonably good shot" at the seat as a moderate Democrat in a state of moderate Democrats.

 "If you look at who the state elected as governor," Haynie said, referring to Democratic governor Mike Easley, "I think North Carolina is a fairly moderate state that favors Bowles over Burr. Even the Republicans in this state are tending towards a more moderate center." Haynie said Dole's victory is evidence of this trend.

 Haynie ascribed Dole's victory to her reputation on the state and national scene, her campaign experience in her husband's senate and presidential races and the novelty of having a female senator from North Carolina, among other things.

 She also pointed to Bowles' campaign style as another reason for losing the 2002 senatorial race to Dole.

 "I think [Bowles' campaign] was just a carefully run race and a little low-key," Haynie said. "But that's Erskine Bowles, and it's hard to be something that you're not." Perhaps most importantly, Haynie said that any Democrat would have faced an uphill battle trying to replace former Republican senator Jesse Helms.

 "I just think that the cards were stacked against him in the beginning," Haynie said. "But you can't discount what you learn running an unsuccessful race... Bowles was new to politics."


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