RIP former Sen. Kay Hagan

Sad news yesterday that former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan died yesterday at her home here in Greensboro. Hagan had been in poor health since contracting the Powasan virus from a tick bite during a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2016, speculated her husband, Charles Hagan III.

Hagan won the U.S. Senate seat, defeating incumbent Elizabeth Dole, after serving the N.C. Senate. According to the NY Times obituary of record:

That race was marked by a Dole campaign ad that accused Ms. Hagan of not believing in God and taking “godless” money.

Ms. Hagan, a former Sunday school teacher, called the ad “fabricated and pathetic” and sued the Dole camp for defamation. After she won the election — 53 percent to 44 percent — she dropped the suit.

The win in North Carolina helped the Democrats regain control of the Senate at the time.

But in 2014, she lost the seat to Mr. Tillis, who was speaker of the state House, by 1.7 percentage points.

Spending in the race topped $100 million, making it the most expensive Senate race at the time.

At Harvard, Ms. Hagan studied the influence of money in politics. “I worry how we are going to get good people to run for office if you have to spend so much time raising money,” she said in a 2015 interview with The Harvard Political Review.

“In any competitive race,” she added, “you’re doing fund-raisers at breakfast, at dinner, and it’s just so much time that should be spent on policy, on drafting legislation, on engaging with constituents back home.”

As I’ve said before, I hardly ever agreed with Sen. Hagan, but I’ve respected her, ever since the time she came knocking on my door when campaigning for the state Senate. Rest in peace.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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