he confessed that he had been reluctant about running for the Senate because he "didn't want to go through the meat-grinder. I couldn't see myself as having any great appeal for the voters." But the majority thought otherwise.
Helms departed for Washington just in time to champion the rise of the New Conservatism. The liberal establishment's achievements had dwindled in the backwash of Lyndon Johnson's collapsing Great Society. The political "middle" had begun to shift rightward. That shift laid the groundwork for Ronald Reagan's ascendancy in 1980.
Doubtless the bluff, big-hearted Everett Jordan had already "gotten his share" by 1972. So had his Democratic corporate-legal associates who ran North Carolina for seventy years. In 1972 Jesse Helms and Jim Holshouser, an unlikely and uncongenial combination, introduced a new persona and style in Tar Heel politics. Holshouser's tenure proved brief and frustrating, but Helms survived and left his mark as the nation's new high priest of the ideological Right.
During the same year that Jesse Helms announced for his first statewide office, a thirty-five-year-old lawyer from North Carolina's Coastal Plain made a similar decision.
" Jim Hunt is a star. Keep your eye on him," a veteran legislator had said two years earlier after Hunt had been president of the state Young Democrats. James Baxter Hunt, Jr., had a passion for politics. Later they would tell stories about his practicing political oratory while plowing the fields of his father's Wilson County farm. At eleven, he helped his family campaign for W. Kerr Scott, the "Good Roads Governor." Scott's $200 million rural road bond issue Of 1949 got the road by the Hunt farm paved and first alerted young Jim to the importance of politics.
Hunt was the classic barefoot boy, a sort of rural Horatio Alger. His father was a soil conservationist; his mother, a teacher and librarian. They lived on a farm that had been in Elsie Hunt's family for three generations. The senior Hunts were substantial, conscientious people. The lives of their