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The Daily Tar Heel

Atypical Republican Candidate Joins U.S. Senate Race

Fisher, a Salisbury resident, announced this week that she will seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated when Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., retires in Jan. 2003.

In her announcement, Fisher, a retired physician, outlined a 13-step program that she said would improve the lives of all North Carolinians.

Although she admits that her beliefs don't always fall within normal Republican boundaries, Fisher says being atypical is exactly what she hopes will land her a job in Congress.

"The founding fathers did not intend for Congress to be the Land of Gentry," she said, adding that many members of Congress are millionaires and lawyers. "It would be nice to have some doctors and school teachers and even a ditch-digger or plumber up there."

Fisher, who joined the Republican Party in 1968, said she hopes to gain support from black voters who traditionally support Democrats. "Many blacks are conservative," she said. "Middle class black voters are very conservative."

While Fisher said her views are rooted in Republican ideology, several of her positions differ from the traditional Republican viewpoint. For example, Fisher said she favors stem cell research. President Bush announced last month that he favors only limited use of stem cells in scientific research.

"I think there are some things the Republican Party needs to do differently if it wants to be successful," Fisher said. "I guarantee you if we came up with a cure for a disease through stem cell research, the Republicans would be the first in line to get it."

Fisher said her experience as a physician serving on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education gives her a unique perspective on issues like public education, a patient's bill of rights and stem cell research.

But she said raising the money necessary to compete could be a problem. "The costs of campaigns are going to change the system of checks and balances if we don't change the way we look at candidates," Fisher said. "We've degraded (elections) to a 30-second soundbyte. ... That is why only rich folks can win."

Fisher said she hopes to eventually raise enough funds to run campaign ads. "If I raise enough money to do ads, then I'll do ads," she said. Until then, Fisher said, she plans to continue going out and meeting voters.

Bill Cobey, chairman of the N.C. Republican Party, said he does not know Fisher personally but has heard about her plans to run. "We're glad to see people put their name up for office," he said, adding, "Being a political unknown can be difficult in a high-profile race like the U.S. Senate race. A lot of times, people run for office and have an opportunity to get known."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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