Facing Controversy: Struggling with Capital Punishment in North Carolina

1990: Jesse Helms campaign flyer

Few candidates for high elective office in North Carolina have outrightly opposed capital punishment. An exception was Democratic candidate Harvey B. Gantt, who opposed incumbent Republican Jesse Helms in the 1990 U.S. Senate race. Gantt opposed the death penalty. Helms's campaign utilized Gantt's stance to great effect against him, stating in one television ad, "Mr. Gantt is asking you and me to approve of some pretty awful things....He opposes the death penalty for rapists who brutally beat their victims." Although behind in public opinion polls going into the weekend prior to the election, Helms went on to beat Gantt by a slim margin.

Shown here is a campaign flyer from the Jesse Helms's campaign. The flyer states that Harvey Gantt opposes the "death penalty for drug dealers and brutal murderers."

(Image from Boyd Cathey Papers, #4629, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

1990: Jesse Helms campaign flyer

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