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The Daily Tar Heel

Hunt, Dole Most Likely To Win, Study Indicates

The survey -- conducted by Portrait of America, a nonpartisan research company -- compared the field of potential Senate candidates from both parties to see who might win in a race.

Hunt, who officials in the Democratic Party have said has no intentions of running, was shown to beat two of three likely Republican candidates -- losing only to Elizabeth Dole.

Other Democrats included in the survey were N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Rep. Dan Blue, D-Wake. Other Republicans in the survey included former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth and gubernatorial candidate Richard Vinroot.

Marshall and Vinroot are the only candidates who have publicly declared their intention to run. But Dole recently switched her registration from Kansas to North Carolina, prompting political pundits to speculate about her candidacy.

Survey results showed 56 percent of voters favored Dole over Hunt. Dole would gather 66 percent of the vote in a race against either Marshall or Blue, according to survey results.

Results also showed that Hunt likely would win in a race against either Vinroot or Faircloth by a wide margin.

But N.C. Democratic Party Chairwoman Barbara Allen said Hunt has made clear his intentions not to run for the seat.

N.C. Republican Party Chairman Bill Cobey said he does not consider Hunt a threat. "(Hunt) has said publically that he wouldn't run for the U.S. Senate," Cobey said. "I take him for his word."

He added that Dole's performance against Hunt in the survey proves her strength as a legitimate candidate -- even against a well-respected opponent.

Hunt spokesman Darren Clark confirmed the former governor's plans not to run, saying he instead plans to continue pursuing his public service initiatives -- namely public education.

Clark added that Hunt will continue to work at Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge and Rice, a Raleigh law firm.

Portrait of America President Alan Lindsay said Hunt was included in the survey because he would have a reasonable chance if he ran. "It is not uncommon for candidates to say they would not run and then they decide to run," he said.

Lindsay said the wavering support for each candidate in the poll will make the months leading up to the election more interesting. "Clearly (Dole) has benefited from a bubble of publicity and once the other candidates get their names out, their numbers will go up."

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