Good old boy for Bowles

April 9, 2002 

Nobody has ever accused Charlotte investment banker Erskine Bowles of being a good old boy. But at least he knows one.

Junior Johnson, the NASCAR racing legend and certifiable good old boy, said Tuesday he is supporting Bowles in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat now held by Jesse Helms.

Johnson met with Bowles last week at Johnson's Yadkin County home.

"I know a lot about the Bowleses, like Skipper Bowles," Johnson said, referring to Erskine's father, Hargrove, who was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1972. "I'm also familiar with Erskine's involvement in a lot of the stuff with Clinton and the Rural Development Task Force when [Jim] Hunt was governor."

"Erskine is an outstanding person," Johnson said. "You can trust him. He's been very successful in business."

At age 70, Johnson's stock car racing days are well behind him. These days Johnson stays busy with various business pursuits, including his own line of country hams, real estate and cattle farming.

Although he is a Democrat, Johnson said he supports some Republicans as well.

Heavyweights weigh in

Former state Rep. Billy Richardson, a Democratic congressional candidate for the 8th District seat, last week held a fund-raiser in Raleigh that was sponsored by such party heavyweights as former Gov. Jim Hunt, former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker, state Treasurer Richard Moore, House Speaker Jim Black, former Sen. Robert Morgan, and Reps. David Price and Bob Etheridge.

What was unusual about the fund-raiser is that Richardson, who is from Fayetteville, is running in a Democratic primary with Trip Helms of Monroe, Chris Kouri of Charlotte and Ray Warren of Charlotte. Party luminaries generally avoid getting involved in contested primary races. The 8th District Democratic candidates hope to challenge Republican Robin Hayes. The fund-raiser was held at the home of Pat and Doug Cowan.

Richardson has also picked up the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO.

Snyder's team

Republican Senate candidate Jim Snyder, a Lexington lawyer, has put together his finance team. The group met last week at Snyder's vacation home on Figure Eight Island.

Among those on Snyder's finance team are Jeff Young, former chief executive officer of Lexington Furniture Industries; Roger Page of Winston-Salem, CEO of Pace Oil Co.; Harold McNeil of Lexington, CEO of Stone Container; and William Maready, a Winston-Salem lawyer.

Question of Ballance

Greg Dority, the Republican candidate running in the 1st Congressional District, is calling on state Sen. Frank Ballance to resign the chairmanship of the Senate Redistricting Committee or get out of the 1st District race.

Dority wants Ballance to follow the lead of state Sen. Brad Miller, who announced Monday he was resigning as co-chairman of the committee because of a potential conflict of interest. Miller is a Raleigh Democrat running in the new 13th Congressional District. Later this year, the legislature may have to draw a congressional map with 12 districts, depending on the outcome of a legal challenge by Utah.

Ballance, a Warrenton Democrat, said Monday he intends to remain a redistricting co-chairman.

Dority, a security consultant from Washington, said that's not right.

"I believe it represents a true conflict of interest," he said.

By staff writers Rob Christensen and Lynn Bonner. Christensen can be reached at 829-4532 or robc@newsobserver.com.

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