- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001

Former Reagan Cabinet member Elizabeth H. Dole was lining up support yesterday in North Carolina for a Senate bid and angling behind the scenes to discourage two potential Republican rivals.
Sources in North Carolina said Mrs. Dole told key politicians and party activists in a round of phone calls that she believes she would not be challenged in the Republican primary next year by either former Sen. Lauch Faircloth or Rep. Richard M. Burr. They are considered her toughest potential opponents in the race to replace conservative Sen. Jesse Helms, who announced Wednesday he will not seek a sixth term.
"She's making a lot of calls," said one state Republican operative. "They all believe she's running."
Mrs. Dole visited the Rowan County, N.C., board of elections office yesterday to register to vote in the state, a move necessary before she could run for the seat. She listed her residence as the home of her 100-year-old mother, Mary Hanford, in Salisbury.
The wife of former Sen. Bob Dole, who has lived in Washington for many years, had been registered to vote in her husband's home state of Kansas. She reportedly still owns property in North Carolina.
Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, a Republican who lost the governor's race last year, already has announced his candidacy for the Senate.
Mr. Faircloth, who lost his re-election bid in 1998 to Democrat John Edwards, met with advisers Thursday, but did not send firm signals afterward that he is in the race.
Burr adviser Paul Shumaker said yesterday that Mr. Burr "truly has not made up his mind" whether to run. The fourth-term House member has $1.2 million in his campaign fund.
But Mr. Shumaker said a poll released yesterday shows that Mrs. Dole enjoys name recognition worth "a $3 million advantage" in fund raising if she were to enter the race. The Charlotte Observer/NBC6 survey showed that 64 percent of those interviewed look at Mrs. Dole favorably, while just 8 percent have a negative opinion of her. An additional 27 percent had not heard of her or had no opinion.
Mr. Vinroot and Mr. Faircloth each had about 25 percent favorability in the poll. About 12 percent of those polled said they liked Mr. Burr.
On the Democratic side, the candidate with the highest name recognition was Secretary of State Elaine Marshall at 15 percent.
The poll of 421 state residents showed that Mrs. Dole's support is greater among older residents and those who have lived in the state the longest. Women like her better than men 70 percent to 57 percent.
Faced with such a popular potential opponent, Democrats were scrambling this week to portray Mrs. Dole as a carpetbagger and directed lawyers at national party headquarters in Washington to investigate the state's residency requirements.
State Democratic Party Chairwoman Barbara Allen told a state newspaper that Mrs. Dole is "not a resident, and that's more of a fact than an issue."
Doug Haynes, a Rocky Mount, N.C., businessman involved in recruiting Mrs. Dole, spoke to her Thursday and said she asked how voters would view her absence from the state.
A friend of Mrs. Dole in Salisbury, Ronnie Smith, said Democrats are trying to manufacture an issue.
"She knows the people and is very close to the people of the state," Mr. Smith said. "If Hillary [Clinton], who never lived in the state of New York, can move in there and get elected, Mrs. Dole can certainly win here. She was born and raised in North Carolina and went to school at Duke University."
State Republican lawmakers have invited Mrs. Dole and other potential Republican candidates to meet with them Tuesday at the state Capitol.
Mrs. Dole ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1999; before that she served as president of the American Red Cross. She served as a Cabinet member in two Republican administrations.
The White House is encouraging Mrs. Dole's candidacy. Republicans badly want to retain Mr. Helms' seat if they have any hope of regaining the Senate majority next year. Democrats now control the chamber 50-49, with one independent.
"I've competed against her once before, and she was a formidable and fine lady, there's no question about that," said President Bush in Crawford, Texas. "If she is the nominee of the Republican Party in North Carolina, I of course will campaign hard for her."

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