There were old-timers like Pat McCrory, and first-timers like Elizabeth Dole.
They were among the candidates who flocked to Thursday's Mallard Creek barbecue for generous helpings of politics and pork.
Most candidates worked a rope line slapping their stickers on some of the 20,000 people expected for the annual barbecue.
There were candidates for Congress, governor, N.C. Supreme Court, county board and other offices. Republicans stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Democrats. McCrory, the GOP candidate for governor, worked the line near supporters of his Democratic rival, Bev Perdue.
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Republican Rep. Robin Hayes burrowed through the crowd carrying a half-dozen takeout boxes. Dole, the GOP's incumbent senator, answered questions from a TV reporter. A few feet away, Chip Hagan, husband of Dole's Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, greeted voters on the line.
Dole called the event “unbelievable.” Also impressed was fellow first-timer Mike Munger, the Libertarian candidate for governor and chairman of Duke University's political science department.
“I usually study politics from books,” Munger said. “To see retail politics at this scale is fantastic because it's such a friendly event.”