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Kay Hagan Runs for Senate Seat in High Stress Campaign

In Kay Hagan’s race against Elizabeth Dole, gender is the only thing that isn’t an issue

By Christina Edwards

     Sarah Palin, move over.

     This election cycle has the possibility of a historical outcome for women in politics with the Republican vice presidential nominee. But in NC, history has already been made: this year’s race for US Senate is the first with female candidates on both sides.

     “This is the first time we’ve had two women running, no matter what, NC will have a woman in the senate, we’ve had a woman there. But I’m going to win,” said current NC state senator Kay Hagan, the Democratic nominee.

     Hagan is running against incumbent Republican US Senator Elizabeth Dole. Dole, who was elected to the US Senate in 2002, was NC’s first female senator.

     “I’ve watched her in the Senate, and she’s been ineffective. So I thought why not take her on?” said Hagan of her decision to run for Senate.

     As a child, Hagan’s first brush with politics came while helping her uncle, US Senator and Florida Governor Lawton Chiles and watching her father serve as mayor as Lakeland, Florida.  Currently, Hagan is serving her fifth term in the NC senate and has been named one of the state’s top ten most effective senators three terms in a row.

     Hagan cites her three now adult children, Jeanette, Tilden, and Carrie, as a major reason for her political involvement. At a Women for Obama rally in Greensboro September 18, Hagan opened the event by telling the crowd that her daughters were the reason why she believed pay equity and healthcare were such important issues in the election, stressing the importance of the women’s vote on these issues.

     “I think women vote on the issues rather than parties, so of course that’s important to reach,” Hagan said.

    Once on stage, Michelle Obama thanked Hagan for speaking, emphasizing the importance of the tight senatorial race to Washington politics in general.


     “We can’t forget what’s going on in these local races because [Obama’s] going to need some help when he gets to the White House,” said Obama.

     Much like the presidential race, the already close, crucial race has become even more analyzed in recent weeks as the financial crisis comes to the forefront.

     “We need to lift debt burden on the next generation. We need to include financial literarcy in high schools. We need to strengthen up start up tax deduction and fight for energy independence,” said Hagan to a group of small business owners at a roundtable in Greensboro September 29. “We need to invest in American success.”

     In response the gas shortage that hit the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, Hagan stated that she felt the system handled the crisis well.

      “I thought that Governor Easley handled the situation as well as possible, calling for more supplies quickly. People need to not hit the panic button. And we’ve got to be sure our refineries are up to speed,” Hagan said.

     The Dole campaign disagrees.     

     “I shudder to think what she’s going to do in Washington if she thinks that was well handled. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in the state that thinks it was well handled,” said Dan McLagan, spokesman for the Dole campaign.

     As result of this race being so close and coming at such an economically crucially time, both sides have been trading negative attacks. A Dole advertisement labeled Hagan “Fibber Kay,” likening her to a yapping dog. Hagan’s campaign has released the 92 Days, 92 Ways email campaign, detailing ways Dole is wrong for the state.

     “Her campaign has been one of the most negative and vicious we’ve seen in NC, and even nationally,” said McLagan who says Hagan’s campaign has spent nearly 20 million in negative advertisements. “She’s done nothing to tell voters who she is.”

     Hagan, of course, disagrees.

    “Trust me, I will be back here,” Hagan said to business owners in Greensboro. “We need somebody to go to work for us.”