From the Star-News...
In recent weeks, as Pantano's campaign has gained momentum and raised money, others outside of Southeastern North Carolina are questioning whether an upset is possible in the district McIntyre has easily held since 1996, when he defeated longtime New Hanover County Commissioner Bill Caster. Most political observers believe that the final numbers on Election Day will be much tighter than the Lumberton Democrat has seen in the past.In a phone interview from Washington Thursday, McIntyre acknowledged that 2010 is his “most intense race” for re-election.The signs that others are viewing the district as competitive seem to be multiplying.
The article sites several signs that Ilario Pantano's campaign is gaining the support, both locally and nationally, that he will need to unseat a long serving and still popular representative. Pantano has raised enough money to catch the eye of the national Republican party and the National Republican Campaign Committee has begun running ads on his behalf. McIntyre has agreed to debate Pantano several times, the first time he's ever faced a challenger in that way during a campaign, and has begun running attack ads distorting the Fair Tax, a total overhaul of federal taxation that Pantano supports.
For a very honest, but highly amusing, look at the race, follow this link to the Robeson County Republican Party's list of the "Top Ten Reasons You Know Your Democratic Campaign Is In Trouble" .
Ilario Pantano impressed me from the first time I met him and had a chance to talk with him privately outside a Brunswick County GOP meeting back at the beginning of this year. He is intense and passionate, but still came off to me as a real down to earth guy. I've had the chance to speak with him and to hear him speak publicly in a variety of situations and have been impressed that he doesn't have a "stump speech" or a collection of "talking points" that he constantly goes back to. He speaks from the head and the heart, he answers any question I've seen put to him without evasion. He seems to have really thought about the intellectual and spiritual sources of his principles, and that makes him comfortable speaking to any subject. That alone is rare in any politician, and has won him my wholehearted support.