Helms and Hunt: The North Carolina Senate Race, 1984

By William D. Snider | Go to book overview

against Helms; 35 percent preferred Helms. A year earlier Hunt's lead had been narrower (46 percent to 38 percent).

After the November election the Raleigh News & Observer's cartoonist Dwane Powell, a belligerent Helms foe, portrayed the senator with lumps on his head and Senator East in his pocket, saying: "Tell me again, John, about the time I made the cover of Time Magazine."

Yet Helms's backers were undismayed. Paul Taylor, writing for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post Syndicate, noted the paradox of Helms's New Right: "One of the secrets of the Congressional Club style of fund raising on 'hot button or emotional social issues is that the harder its champions fall--Helms took some massive spills on abortion and school prayer in the Senate last month--the faster the checks pour in." And down in Raleigh Tom Ellis took a philosophical view. "The papers claim Jesse Helms is an embarrassment to the state," he said. "Hell, Claude Sitton [ News and Observer editor] is an embarrassment to me. That's just another way of saying you don't agree with someone."

Congressman Henry Hyde (R-III.) put it stronger: "If Jesse Helms was crusading for liberal causes, they would have erected a stained-glass window in his honor at the Brookings Institution. He is reviled because he is unyielding in his fight on behalf of traditional values. One Jesse Helms is worth a thousand political opportunists." Howard Phillips, director of the Conservative Caucus, agreed: "Jesse Helms is unique. The only battles we lose are the ones we fail to fight, and Jesse can never be accused of failing to fight. That's why he's our most valuable player."

As for Jesse Helms himself, he acknowledged that the Republicans "took a beating." But then he added that despite the year's misfortunes it "would be no cakewalk" for Jim Hunt to unseat him in 1984.


16. "The Old Jim Crow"

As 1983 arrived, the Washingtonian Magazine, a sophisticated journal of the capital establishment, concluded that Jesse Helms's defiant Senate performance as the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" had wrecked his career. It labeled the senior senator from North Carolina as the "luckiest candidate

-95-

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Helms and Hunt: The North Carolina Senate Race, 1984
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Prologue 3
  • Mr. Clean and the Fire Chief's Son 5
  • I. Patriarch and Upstart 7
  • 2. Salt of the Earth People 10
  • 2. Salt of the Earth People 18
  • 2. Salt of the Earth People 25
  • 5. Too Proud to Be Proud 31
  • Naysayer and Pragmatist 37
  • 6. the Lone Ranger 39
  • 7. a Touch of Camelot and Carter 43
  • 7. a Touch of Camelot and Carter 49
  • 10. a New Direction 58
  • Master Campaigner and Avenging Angel 63
  • Ii. Political Tarnish 65
  • 12. Catching Hand Grenades 70
  • 13. Against the Wind 78
  • 114. Helms at Bay 82
  • 114. Helms at Bay 91
  • 114. Helms at Bay 95
  • 17. That Old-Time Religion 104
  • Epochal Battle or Mud Fight? 111
  • 18. "I'Ll Carry It" 113
  • 19. "Helms Can't Win" 117
  • 20. the D'Aubuisson Connection 122
  • 21. the School of Hard Knox 128
  • 22. the Windsor Story 136
  • 23. When Helms Wasn't Helms 139
  • 24. Time Out for Party Time 146
  • 25. the Big Guns of August 150
  • The Helmsmen Ride High 157
  • 26. a Severe Identity Crisis 159
  • 27. the Reagan Tide 167
  • 28. "Macabre Wild Card" 179
  • 30. Search and Destroy 186
  • 31. a Dead Heat? 194
  • 31. a Dead Heat? 201
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