Household-Name Republican Fighting for Her Political Life

With congressional elections coming up this fall, many Republican incumbents are looking vulnerable even in states where their party previously seemed to have a lock on the vote.

Perhaps the most surprising of these is North Carolina, where polls show that the well-known Elizabeth Dole is virtually tied with her Democratic challenger, North Carolina State Sen. Kay Hagan.

According to North Carolina’s WRAL, a poll of 500 likely voters earlier this month found Hagan with 48 percent support and Dole with 47.

Just a month earlier, before primary elections, a similar poll had found Dole ahead of Hagan by 13 points.

The race will mark the first time in North Carolina that two women have competed as party nominees for a U.S. Senate seat, according to the New Burn Sun Journal.

Dole is the wife of former Sen. Bob Dole, and has long been a political figure in her own right.

She served as a Cabinet member in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and as head of the American Red Cross, and she briefly ran for president in the run-up to the 2000 elections.

When she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, she took over the seat vacated by arch-conservative Jesse Helms upon his retirement.

The Democratic-leaning Web site GoBlueRidge quoted Hagan as saying about her opponent: “She is well-known. She does have 94 percent name recognition. But as I go across the state and tell people I’m running against her, they obviously know her, but then they look at me and they say, ‘I can’t tell you one thing that she’s done for North Carolina.’”

Hagan was first elected to the North Carolina state senate in 1998.

–Will Crain/


“Poll: Dole, Hagan in virtual tie in Senate race”, May 11, 2008

“Hagan-Dole Senate race a first for North Carolina”
New Burn Sun Journal, May 7, 2008

“Hagan’s not afraid of Dole”
GoBlueridge.Net, May 7, 2008

Comments are closed.