elect our local ticket and our state ticket and we can carry North Carolina for Fritz Mondale and Gerry Ferraro. We can really do that," he told the eighty-eight delegates at their final convention caucus. Privately, though, the Hunt forces admitted that their task would be more a matter of withstanding the strong Reagan surge, even of preventing a landslide like that in 1972, which buried all the Democratic candidates and installed Republicans in the Senate and the governor's office.
As summer wound down, both Governor Hunt and Senator Helms slipped away for brief vacations. The governor spent a week on the South Carolina coast with his family after the Democratic National Convention. The senator retreated to his Lake Gaston home in northeastern North Carolina after returning from Dallas in late August.
Although Labor Day ordinarily marks the start of the election season in North Carolina, the senator and the governor were by that time several months into the race and running hard. Early in the year Gary Pearce, the governor's campaign manager, commented on the grueling pace Hunt set. "He's a driven man," Pearce said, after returning with the governor from a Washington trip. "He's never still. He's always making notes, talking or planning. Coming back on the plane Wednesday night, both of us were dead tired. All I wanted to do was go to sleep. But there sat the governor signing letters, making notes and working as hard as ever. He's got some hidden energy that never lets him stop."
Helms's associates had observed this same hard-driving quality in the senator. A friend recalled that in his college years, when Helms washed dishes for thirty cents an hour to pay his tuition at Wake Forest College, he was always on the go. "Jesse worked all the time," he said. "He stayed up working late at night. He never stopped." And so it had been during the strenuous summer. In addition to the conventions, fund-raisers, and the first television debate, both men oversaw strategy and moved around the state touching campaign bases and sampling the political winds.
In June, Hunt launched his final gubernatorial initiative for education at