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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 14:39 GMT
Mrs Dole defeats former Clinton aide
Elizabeth Dole celebrates her Senate victory
Elizabeth Dole: Critics said her campaign lacked substance
Republican Elizabeth Dole has comfortably beaten former Clinton aide Erskine Bowles to the North Carolina Senate seat, 54% to 45%.

It was the country's most expensive campaign, with the candidates spending $21m between them.

Mrs Dole - wife of the 1996 presidential candidate Bob Dole - was the Republican choice to replace stalwart conservative Senator Jesse Helms, who is retiring after 30 years in Congress.

But Mrs Dole, 66, had returned to her home state after spending nearly four decades in the capital, leading Democrat critics to label her a "carpetbagger" - implying that she was an outsider seeking political success in a new locality.

Erskine Bowles
Erskine Bowles lacked Dole's celebrity clout
For much of the campaign it seemed the celebrity clout acquired through two cabinet posts and a short-lived run for the presidency might not be enough to get Mrs Dole elected.

Her 57-year-old opponent - an investment banker - was a local man from Charlotte, and looked like strong opposition right up to the final vote, having beaten off a better-known Democrat for the candidacy.

Mr Bowles had also served as White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton.

'Ducking debate'

Mr Bowles had chipped away at Mrs Dole's lead in the opinion polls, reducing it from 50% a year ago to just 6% last week.

But in the end, her appeal to serve "Republicans and Democrats alike" - with minimal focus on the issues that traditionally divide the two parties - may have given her the edge.

Mr Bowles' association with the Clinton administration may have put off many voters.


She has a plan to save jobs and create economic security

Dole spokeswoman Mary Brown Brewer

During the campaign some of Mrs Dole's opponents dressed up as ducks to symbolise what they called her "tendency to duck the questions".

A local columnist lambasted her for "running a shell campaign - no debate, no issues, no substance."

But she had the early and strong support of the White House and voters responded to her appeal as a "compassionate conservative".

Mrs Dole, the first woman to be elected to the Senate from North Carolina, was a former head of the Red Cross, who says she experienced a "spiritual awakening" in 1983.

"I'm going to fight for all of these people in the United States Senate. I'm going to fight for them," she said at a celebration in her hometown of Salisbury, with her husband at her side.

Fresh in the minds of voters is the incumbent Mr Helms, whose refusal to ratify international treaties, successful campaign to cut off US dues to the UN, and crusades against homosexuality and abortion polarised the populace and earned him the nickname "Senator No".


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28 Oct 02 | Americas
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