Hagan set to announce plans vs. Dole

State Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganTillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll North Carolina businessman will challenge Tillis in GOP primary Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 MORE (D) is expected to announce on Tuesday whether she will launch an uphill battle to unseat Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) in 2008.

Hagan, who said earlier this month that she wouldn’t run but is having second thoughts, will accompany her announcement with a video on her campaign website, campaign manager Linda Cary said Sunday.

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Democrats have been unable to woo a series of top-tier candidates, including term-limited Gov. Mike Easley, Rep. Brad Miller and state Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Hagan and state Rep. Grier Martin (D) also passed on the race in recent weeks. Both polled about 15 points behind Dole in recent surveys. Dole led Hagan 43-27 in a July Public Policy Polling survey.
Hagan is a five-term state senator who prides herself on constituent service and her relationship with the business community.

But John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University, said Hagan appears to be nothing more than a placeholder who will put up a fight and force Dole to spend some money.

"From a national party perspective, you’ve got so many other serious competitive pickup opportunities,” Dinan said. “I don’t expect this to move the North Carolina Senate race up from where it’s been, which is not a competitive race.

“Once the top-tier candidates dropped out, that was really the ballgame.”

Democrats have long insisted that Dole is vulnerable, and they say Hagan is a viable candidate, calling her a “fresh face” who contrasts well with the 71-year-old Dole.

“You have to look at the race starting where it is today,” said a Democratic strategist familiar with the race. “Hagan is getting in against a senator with very soft numbers who is not known for her political ability and who a lot of people think will run a tired campaign, based on her history” as chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) last cycle.

Investment banker Jim Neal also entered the Democratic race recently. Last week he made waves and added a subplot to a potential primary by revealing that he is gay.

Dole’s campaign declined to comment on Hagan’s announcement, but a spokeswoman for the NRSC said Hagan’s campaign is futile.

“I am not sure why Democrats continue to waste their time in a state where voters clearly favor Sen. Dole,” said the spokeswoman, Rebecca Fisher. “The silence from any top-tier Democrats in the state to challenge her is deafening.”