Hagan Says She Can Do Better Than Dole
State Sen. Kay Hagan, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, campaigned Wednesday in Southern Pines.
She made a brief stop at The Pilot for an interview.
Hagan is running against Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. She said that she would make a better senator than Dole because she was born in North Carolina and will always put the state first.
"I'm running because North Carolina deserves better," she said.
Hagan went to law school at Wake Forest University and has lived in Greensboro for 30 years. She raised a family there.
"You better believe this is where I call home," she said.
Dole moved to Salisbury from Kansas shortly before running and winning her Senate seat in 2002, Hagan pointed out.
"Truly, I don't think she comes back to North Carolina much," Hagan said. "In 2005, she was here 20 days. In 2006, 13. I don't think she'd qualify for in-state tuition."
Recent polls show Hagan with anywhere from a seven- to three-point lead. A year ago, Dole looked unbeatable.
Hagan, chairman of the powerful state Senate budget committee, was the only Democrat willing to challenge her. She said she would not have left her state Senate seat if she didn't think she had a legitimate shot at defeating Dole.
"I wasn't going to give all that up just to run for office," she said.
Hagan admitted that circumstances have worked to her advantage. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama has opened up a lead on Republican Sen. John McCain in the presidential race, and Democrats look to make gains elsewhere.
It may be part of a national trend of voters seeking change and rejecting incumbents.
"I'm not surprised," Hagan said. "That's what I wanted."
In the last couple of weeks, both campaigns have gone almost entirely negative with their advertisements.
"She was the first one to go negative," Hagan said.
Hagan said her ads are intended to point out how Dole has failed North Carolina. That's why they focus on the fact that Dole has voted with President Bush 92 percent of the time, she said. Another advertisement says that Dole is ranked 93rd in efficiency.
Hagan emphasized her work to balance the state budget and make North Carolina a business-friendly state. She said she is the one who can help get the economy moving in the right direction.
"I've got a great track record," she said.
North Carolina can lead the nation in wind and solar energy, she said.
"North Carolina needs to be the hub, the epicenter, of renewable energy," she said. "We can create thousands of jobs here."
Ending the war in Iraq will also help the economy, she said. She said she would support a plan to draw down the troops in Iraq and put some more into Afghanistan.
"We need to stop spending $11 billion a month on a war that is not making us safer," she said. "We need to be building those roads, bridges and schools here."
Hagan's father was in the Marines and many family members are in the military. She said she is dedicated to keeping the state's relationship with the military strong and bringing in more defense contractors to help create jobs.
"I'll make sure North Carolina maintains its position as the most military-friendly state in the nation," she said.
The next North Carolina senator is going to need to be able to work with the other side and cut through partisan politics, she said.
"I work well with people," Hagan said. "Partisan gridlock is not something you're going up to Washington (D.C.) for. I look forward to working with (the state's other senator) Richard Burr."
One possible knock against Hagan has been that she would not know how to get things done as a freshman senator.
"Liddy Dole, when she went up had spent 40-plus years in Washington," Hagan said. "Everybody thought she'd have done a lot more. But I can't name one thing she's done."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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