Democrats: Sunny Sam

In Senate circles, he is outside the innermost. He has never authored any major legislation. He heads no committees.

He often speaks on the Senate floor—but he has never come close to making that dramatic sort of oration that changes the course of legislative history. In his home state, he has little political power. Yet of all the 35 Senators running for election this year, North Carolina Democrat Samuel James Ervin Jr., 65, has less to worry about than anyone. Last week he won his party's nomination unopposed. And in North Carolina—where there is a substantive Republican vote—the G.O.P. can...

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