Cain Closer to Decision

Jim Cain, a Republican lawyer from Raleigh, says he is

continuing to explore a gubernatorial bid next year and plans to

decide within eight weeks.

Cain drew notice this week when he criticized a Department of

Commerce trade mission to Europe because it included a stop in

France. Cain said he thought it was inappropriate to go to France

because of that country’s opposition to the war in Iraq.

Although he said he has made no decision, Cain said he is

closer to declaring his candidacy than he was at the beginning of

the year.

“I have received lot of encouragement by friends and

acquaintances whose opinions I respect and who have a continuing

concern about our state leadership,” Cain said.

Cain, 45, said family considerations will play a major role in

his decision. He and his wife have two daughters.

Cain is best known as president of the Carolina Hurricanes

professional hockey team, a post he left last year. As a result

of the hockey job and his law practice, Cain has made connections

with many area business leaders.

But he is also politically experienced, having been trained in

politics as part of the old National Congressional Club, the

political organization of former Sen. Jesse Helms.

Cain is the subject of a flattering profile in this month’s

edition of North Carolina, the magazine of the N.C. Citizens for

Business and Industry. The group functions as the state’s chamber

of commerce.

Cain is hardly the only Republican interested in challenging

Democratic Gov. Mike Easley. Others who have expressed interest

include Sen. Patrick Ballantine of Wilmington, former Charlotte

Mayor Richard Vinroot, insurance agent George Little of Southern

Pines, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly Lake Jr. and

Winston-Salem lawyer Dan Barrett.

U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes of Concord is expected to announce

shortly that he will not run for governor.

Justice Lake to stay?

Lake is still not talking about whether he plans to run for

governor next year. But the Republican’s options remain narrow

under a revised Code of Judicial Conduct issued this week.

Talk had circulated in Raleigh that justices were considering

a revision to the code to allow judges to remain on the bench

while running for nonjudicial offices. In the end, they decided

to leave the provision alone, Lake said.

“Judges have to not just be impartial completely,” Lake said.

“They have to be perceived as impartial and fair.”

Political wedding

You can tell it’s a political wedding when two former U.S.

senators and a former congressman show up.

The recent wedding of Chuck Fuller and Holly Michelle Coffer

in North Raleigh resembled a Republican convention. And no

wonder. Fuller managed the 1998 re-election campaign of Sen.

Lauch Faircloth and the 1996 gubernatorial campaign of Robin

Hayes. Coffer is the daughter of Raleigh physician Bert Coffer,

who was campaign treasurer for Sen. Jesse Helms in 1996.

Helms, Faircloth and former U.S. Rep. Fred Heineman were among

those who attended the ceremony at Bay Leaf Baptist Church. Among

the groomsmen were Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell and

Jonathan Hill, the head of the state chapter of Citizens for a

Sound Economy.

Democrats were sprinkled in the crowd as well, including

former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker and Rufus Edmisten, a former

secretary of state and former attorney general.