This is the first in a series of profiles on the 2014 U.S. Senate Candidates on View from the Hill.
Despite having being former mayor of Shelby, the hometown of Sen. Kay Hagan, Ted Alexander, has few memories of her.
"I believe I may have met her once when she came to town, but I honestly cannot remember," said Alexander, who is running for the Republican nomination to face Hagan in the general election.
Prior to his campaign, Alexander served two terms as mayor of Shelby, which Alexander notes makes him one of only two Republican candidates in the field who has served in elected office, the other being N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis.
Alexander said this tenure as mayor gives him experience when it comes to governing with conservative values.
"I have proven that I know how to get things done without compromising my core beliefs," Alexander said in an email interview.
Alexander announced his candidacy last month, later than most of his opponents, meaning he will have less time to gain recognition before the May primary.
Alexander said other candidates' campaigns were not a factor in his decision.
"I made the decision to run for U.S. Senate after a great deal of prayer and soul-searching and without worrying as to who the other candidates would be," he said.
Despite entering later, the latest Public Policy Polling numbers show him in third place in the Republican field with 10 percent of the vote, behind Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon and Heather Grant, who are tied for second place at 13 percent. Tillis has the lead with 20 percent.
In terms of policy, Alexander mainly advocates reducing the size of the federal government.
On his website, he said he supports what is called the Penny Plan, which would cut one cent out of every dollar of federal spending for five years. and then cap spending to 18 percent of national income from then on.
"While cutting waste won’t solve all of our budget problems, it’s a great place to start," Alexander said.
In addition, Alexander's website said he supports defunding the U.S. Department of Education and advocates giving that money back to the states, local schools and "citizens to encourage the school of one's choice."
"The current federal policy on student loans, although well-intentioned, has actually worked against college affordability by creating a college bubble," he said. "If college lending were left to the private sector, college and universities would face more pressure to keep tuition rates low."
Alexander said his conservatism will give him the advantage in the general election.
"I believe that given the opportunity, and without the constant interference of the federal government, the people of North Carolina will make the best choices for themselves, their families, and their communities," Alexander said. "I will defend their right to do so."
But Alexander's previous election successes might not necessarily translate into national success.
Cleveland County, where Alexander serves as Republican Party chairman, is deeply conservative, with nearly 60 percent voting for Mitt Romney in 2012. Meanwhile, Romney won the state with barely 50 percent of the vote.
Right now, he needs to prove that he's the most conservative candidate in the Republican field. But in the general election, he will need to show how his conservative values are what the majority of North Carolinians will want represented in the Senate.
In a primary full of candidates committed to conservative ideas, Alexander will have a record showing how his ideas translates to policy. That could be his greatest strength — or challenge.
Read the other Senate profiles by clicking on the buttons below! And be sure to check out the voter's guide for information on Orange County candidates. Early voting ends May 3, and the primary election is May 6.
View from the Hill is a political blog by Daily Tar Heel staff writers. Any opinion expressed in it does not represent the Daily Tar Heel. Email the blog coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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