RALEIGH (AP) -- North Carolina's biggest lottery booster is less than a year away from leaving office. No one championed the lottery like Gov. Mike Easley, who pressed legislators for 4 1/2 years before they narrowly approved the North Carolina Education Lottery. The state was the last on the East Coast to start up a state-run numbers and instant-win game. Among the major-party candidates who want to succeed him, only Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue is nearly as enthusiastic about the lottery as Easley. As president of the Senate, she proudly cast the deciding vote as a deadlocked chamber finally approved the lottery in August 2005. The other leading candidates have only a tepid level of support for the lottery. Republican candidate Bob Orr, who filed a lawsuit challenging the lottery, admits he's bought Powerball tickets. GOP candidate Bill Graham says he would give all the net profits to counties to support a multibillion dollar school construction bond. (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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