Helms will get spotlight

Staff WriterNovember 5, 2002 

Though all the attention has been focused on Elizabeth Dole and Erskine Bowles in recent months, Sen. Jesse Helms will take center stage on Friday.

Helms, who is stepping down after 30 years, will be feted at a fund-raiser at the North Raleigh Hilton.

The event will raise money for Helms' political committee, called American Spirit. The Raleigh Republican plans to remain active on behalf of conservative candidates in 2003 and 2004.

Organizers of the event, which costs $1,000 per couple or $500 per person, hope to raise $250,000. The reception begins at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7:30 p.m.

For further information, call (919) 571-1996. The event will include some film tributes to Helms.

Election night parties

Republican Elizabeth Dole will be holding her election night rally tonight at the train depot in Salisbury -- the same place she had her primary celebration.

But Dole is expected to stop by a statewide GOP gathering at the Brownstone Hotel in Raleigh early in the evening before heading to Salisbury.

Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles will be at the North Raleigh Hilton, where he will be joined by other Democrats and candidates including congressional candidates Bob Etheridge of Lillington, David Price of Chapel Hill, and Brad Miller of Raleigh.

Adjusting for inflation

North Carolina's Senate race is already the most expensive in the country, with Dole and Bowles spending a combined $22 million so far, and is likely to go higher before the final count is made.

But the Dole-Bowles campaign won't break any records in North Carolina, a state used to expensive Senate campaigns. In fact, there have been four Senate races that have cost more, according to an analysis by Thad Beyle, a political science professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The most expensive Senate race in Tar Heel history was the 1984 showdown between Republican Sen. Jesse Helms and Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt. The two spent $26.3 million, which when adjusted for inflation would be $45.8 million in today's dollars.

The second most expensive was the 1990 Senate between between Helms and former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt which cost $25.5 million, or $35.3 million in inflation-adjusted dollars.

The third most expensive race was the 1996 rematch between Helms and Gantt, in which $22.5 million was spent or $26 million in today's dollars.

And the fourth most expensive race was the 1978 race between Helms and Democrat John Ingram which cost $8.3 million or $23.2 million in adjusted dollars.

Looking at it another way, the 1984 race cost $20.60 per vote, the 1978 race cost $20.47 per vote, and the 1990 race cost $17.08 per vote.

Looking to 2004

At a downtown Raleigh rally Monday, Bowles teased the crowd when he nearly introduced U.S. Sen. John Edwards as the next president.

Bowles said it was hard to follow Edwards who is "our next pre. ..." He stopped before completing the word. "Wait a minute," Bowles said, who then introduced Edwards as "the senior senator from North Carolina for at least the next two years and then we are going to send him somewhere else."

Edwards is exploring a potential presidential bid.

Staff writer Rob Christensen can be reached at 829-4532 or robc@newsobserver.com.

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