After months of almost no activity, the North Carolina Senate race is finally starting to see some movement. Over the past two weeks, a number of Democrats have expressed interest in running against incumbent Republican senator Richard Burr – two of them coming out just yesterday. Here are the candidates who might run:

State Representative Duane Hall – Hall has formed an exploratory committee, an indication that he’s seriously looking at the race. But he’s also telling people he’s not running for anything just yet.
Pros: From populous Wake County.
Cons: unproven fundraising ability, lack of name recognition.

Former U.S. Congressman Heath Shuler – Shuler isn’t saying much but hasn’t denied interest in a U.S. Senate bid. Right now he says he’s focused on Duke Energy, a great company. But he’s probably analyzing polling data on the side.
Pros: moderate, strong name recognition in Mountains, proven electoral record.
Cons: Too conservative for NC Dems? Challenged Pelosi – might have difficulty in energizing liberals.

Former State Representative Deborah Ross – Of the people on this list, Ross is the most likely to run. Rumor has it she’s told the DSCC that she plans to run. In my view, that means she’s in. But no official announcement has come yet.
Pros: A woman – women tend to make better candidates in NC. Base in Raleigh.
Cons: If nominated, would be most liberal NC Democratic nominee in history. Fundraising ability for national race?

Mayor Chris Rey – Rey is mayor of Spring Lake (population around 13,000) near Fayetteville. Most people thought he was a potential candidate for Lieutenant Governor but he’s apparently looking at the Senate seat too. Why Rey might make an appealing candidate: he’s African American and Democrats will need to energize this group in an election with President Obama off the ballot.
Pros: African American. “Candidate of the future” – not a name from the past.
Cons: Mayor of small town good platform for Senate race? Low name recognition. Fundraising ability?

Of these candidates, I would imagine the DSCC’s #1 pick would be Heath Shuler. If he ran, there’s no doubt they would shower him with money to make North Carolina a competitive contest. With the other candidates it would be more of an open question. It’s not exactly late, but we’re no longer early in the process so whoever wants to challenge Burr is going to have to get out there soon.


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