Political pundits are offering differing views on what effect two years in the Clinton White House will have on UNC graduate Erskine Bowles' chances of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Bowles, former White House chief of staff, announced Wednesday that he will seek the seat of Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.
Bowles joins fellow Democrats Rep. Dan Blue, D-Wake, and N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in the race.
Republicans running for the seat include former presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole, retired physician and educator Ada Fisher and former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot.
Bowles served in the Clinton White House from December 1996 to November 1998. He is now vice chairman of the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
Earlier in the year, Bowles announced he would not run for the Senate. But in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in which he lost a close friend, Bowles said he had a change of heart.
"Over the last few weeks, each of us has had to re-examine how we can best serve our state, our nation and our fellow men and women," Bowles stated in a Wednesday press release. "I will be running for the opportunity of serving my state and country."
Ferrel Guillory, director of UNC's Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life, said Bowles must first demonstrate to North Carolinians that he can handle a large statewide campaign. "He has the skills to tackle issues, but he has never campaigned," Guillory said. "He has to go out there and prove himself."
Bowles has never run a campaign of any size, but Guillory pointed out that neither had Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., before he won a Senate seat in 1998.