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ANGIER, NC (AP) — One of the leading Democratic candidates for North Carolina governor is staying home to begin his campaign in earnest.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge was sure to be around longtime friends and supporters Saturday morning at his kickoff campaign event at Harnett Central High School in Angier. The school is symbolic because Etheridge’s campaign said he worked for new construction at the school while he was a Harnett County commissioner in the mid-1970s. He later served in the Legislature and was elected state schools superintendent before working in Congress for 14 years.

Etheridge is one of 13 candidates who filed to try to succeed Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, who isn’t seeking re-election. There are six Democrats and Republicans each and one Libertarian. The primary is May 8.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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