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Dole, Hagan win senate nominations by wide margin

By Sarah Nagem and Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., easily defeated her primary opponent Tuesday and will now face Democrat Kay Hagan, who also cruised to victory.
As early precincts reported in statewide, Dole led her opponent, Weldon resident Pete Di Lauro, by a 90 percent to 10 percent margin.
Rowan County voters favored Dole by virtually the same spread. Dole had 8,795 votes, or 89.8 percent, to Di Lauro’s 995, or 10.1 percent.
Dole issued a victory statement around 9 p.m. and said she was eager to campaign for re-election.
“My campaign will focus on my record of results for North Carolinians and the goals I still want to accomplish for our state,” Dole said.
“Since my election, I have enjoyed spending time in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties and talking with people about the issues that matter most to them.
“I look forward to an ongoing dialogue with folks from Manteo to Murphy and asking them for the privilege of representing them in a second term.”
Hagan, a state senator from Greensboro, was carrying 62 percent of the vote ó a 43-point advantage over four Democratic rivals ó with 25 percent of statewide precincts reporting. Chapel Hill entrepreneur Jim Neal was running second with 19 percent of the vote.
In Rowan, Hagan led the way with 8,253 votes to Neal’s 3,090, or 57.5 to 21.5 percent.
Statewide, Lumberton attorney Marcus Williams had 11 percent of support in the Democratic primary, while Lexington truck driver Duskin Lassiter and Moncure podiatrist Howard Staley each had 4 percent.
Hagan said she needs to raise about $10 million to challenge Dole, a former Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Transportation who went on to lead the American Red Cross. Her husband, Bob, was the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, and she ran for the White House herself in 2000.
Dole, first elected to the Senate in 2002, has already set aside about $3.2 million for her re-election bid.
Hagan led the primary in both polls and fundraising, winning the support of party regulars and repeatedly focusing her campaign on Dole instead of Neal. She raised $1.5 million and purchased a series of television advertisements across the state to boost her name recognition.
Hagan, 54, has been a state senator for almost a decade and has served as one of the body’s chief budget writers for three terms. She previously worked at NationsBank after earning a law degree at Wake Forest University, but she left the job after the birth of her third child.
Dole, 71, cast her vote Tuesday morning at the Rowan Public Library in Salisbury.
And it was no secret who the local Republican would be voting for in the presidential race.
John McCain has military experience that the country needs right now, Dole said in front of the library. McCain’s father and grandfather were veterans, too.
“It’s in the genes, so to speak,” Dole said.
As for her own race for the Senate, Dole said she wasn’t worried. Neither she nor Di Lauro spent much money on the primary race.
“I think that things look good for the primary,” Dole said. “I feel good about today.”
Dole said she has visited every county across the state and has listened to what voters want from her in Washington.
“The No. 1 issue for our country is safety and security,” Dole said.
Other important issues are high gas prices, illegal immigrants and securing America’s borders, she said.
Locally, transportation is key, she said.
Dole wouldn’t say which Democrat she’d prefer to go up against in the general election.
But as November approaches, Dole said she will remind residents across the state about what she has done in Washington.
“I obviously want to have a vigorous discussion of the issues,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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