07/12/04 — Unprepared? Some ‘unlikelies’ did quite well

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Unprepared? Some ‘unlikelies’ did quite well

Some candidates for political office streak around the country in sleek aircraft, some in trains, others in big buses — or leading caravans of cars carrying smiling supporters.

Dan Barrett has been doing it on foot, perhaps, to a degree, by necessity. He is a 45-year-old lawyer from the town of Advance. He is still in his first term of public office, serving as chairman of the Davie County Board of Commissioners.

Barrett entered the race with neither name recognition — even in his own party — nor financial resources to mount a statewide advertising campaign.

So he has been hoofing it across the state from the mountains to the coast trying to get grassroots support and free media attention.

So far, he hasn’t managed to bump out of single digits in political polls.

Skeptics point to his lack of experience — less than a full term as commissioner in a county of only 35,000 souls. And this fellow wants to take over the helm of a state of more than eight million people and a budget of almost $16 billion?

It might not be as audacious as some of think.

Jim Hunt was a young upstart who had never held any public office or built an impressive record as a lawyer when he became lieutenant governor by upsetting Roy Sowers, a veteran state Conservation and Development chairman who was politically and financially well connected.

And Jim Hunt went on to become a successful and admired governor.

We also might recall that a woefully unsuccessful haberdasher named Harry Truman from Missouri somehow became elected to the U.S. Senate and became one of the nation’s greatest and most beloved presidents.

Dan Barrett in all likelihood is not going to get his party’s nomination, let alone win the governorship this time around. But he should not be dismissed out of hand on the notion that he isn’t sufficiently “prepared” to handle the job.

Published in Editorials on July 12, 2004 10:56 AM