Politics & Government

GOP hopes high as candidate filing opens in N. Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rarely have North Carolina Republicans seen so much interest in running for office.

Dozens of prospective candidates have come to orientation sessions put on by House Republicans. Interest in congressional and local races also is high.

"You're going to see a huge number of candidates file on the Republican side because they smell blood in the water," says political analyst John Davis of Raleigh.

Filing for offices from the U.S. Senate to county commissioner opens Monday across North Carolina and runs through Feb. 26. The May 4 primaries are less than three months away.

The races take place against backdrops that seem to favor Republicans.

The GOP has enjoyed high-profile successes in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts. Despite personal appeals from President Barack Obama, voters in each state rejected his candidate.

In North Carolina, which Obama narrowly carried, a survey last month by Raleigh's Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found only 44 percent of voters like the job he's doing.

The elections also follow the worst budget year and one of the highest tax increases in N.C. history. And they take place as federal grand juries investigate a former Democratic governor and former U.S. senator.

Chris Hayes, a senior analyst with the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank, says his polls reflect those dynamics.

"You're getting a huge number of Democrats, especially those whose only voting participation was 2008, saying they're not going to vote in 2010," he says. By contrast, enthusiasm among Republicans is "sky high."

"They're chomping at the bit to get out and vote."