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Bill Graham files for governor's race

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
Salisbury attorney Bill Graham made it official Monday, filing for the Republican nomination for governor.
Graham filed at the State Board of Elections office in downtown Raleigh.
“To me, this was merely a formality,” Graham said. “In my heart and head, I’ve been in this race a long, long time.”
One of the few people who accompanied Graham to the Board of Elections office was Aaron Lay, one of his campaign workers.
“We didn’t make a big event of it today because we were between campaign events,” Lay said.
He said Graham’s wife, Shari, and his children, Caroline and Perry, remained in Salisbury Monday.
Graham, 47, who raised his profile over the past 18 months by railing against high taxes and illegal immigration, announced last May that he intended to run for governor.
He led an effort in early 2006 to try to get the General Assembly to roll back an automatic increase in the gasoline tax. That didn’t happen, but state leaders did cap the gas tax for the past year, saving taxpayers $159 million.
Graham said Monday he’s in the process of moving his campaign into high gear. He noted that he campaigned in Asheville this past weekend and spoke to a group in Raleigh earlier Monday shortly before filing.
Monday night, he traveled to Harnett County to speak to the county’s Republican party.
Graham recently released a health-care plan that targets the state’s uninsured. His plan, called “We CARE,” will focus on getting coverage to the 1.4 million uninsured people across the state.
He proposes creating risk pools that would allow businesses, the self-employed and other individuals to buy and sell different types of health insurance policies. The pool would open access to all North Carolinians and their families who are working full time or part time, yet are not currently offered employer-sponsored health insurance.
Participants in the pool would not lose coverage as a result of losing their jobs, being laid off, retiring, getting divorced or other causes.
Graham said his plan is a market-driven, privately funded alternative to universal health care.
Though Graham isn’t a front-runner in the Republican race according to most polling sources, he said that wasn’t a major concern at this point. He said he expects voters’ support to become more directed as the primary nears.
With that direction, Graham said, he feels he’ll garner a great deal of support.
“People will be becoming more focused between now and May,” Graham said. “I think they’ll come my way. They’re ready for a change.”
According to Public Policy Polling’s most recent poll, results of which were released Feb. 7, Graham is presently in third in the Republican race with 11 percent of voters naming him as their choice.
Pat McCrory leads the race with 25 percent followed by Fred Smith with 21 percent. Bob Orr with 7 percent and Elbie Powers with 2 percent follow.
Thirty-four percent of those polled said they were undecided.
In the Democratic race, Bev Perdue is favored by 45 percent of the voters while Richard Moore is the choice of 31 percent of voters. Democrats have controlled the Governor’s Mansion for 16 consecutive years.
Also in Raleigh, N.C. Sen. Kay Hagan of Greensboro filed to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Salisbury native Elizabeth Dole.
Hagan will be one of five expected Democratic candidates on the May 6 primary ballot hoping to take on the Republican incumbent.
Hagan said her five terms in the General Assembly shows she is a problem solver and that she can use her skills to repair Washington.
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The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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