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CHAPEL HILL – U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (Rep.-Banner Elk) announced Tuesday that she will not run in next year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary. Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen says that with Foxx out of the mix, the Republican nomination is even more up for grabs than it was before.

Jensen says PPP consistently found in their monthly polls that Foxx was the top choice for North Carolina Republicans to challenge incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (Dem.- Greensboro).

“I think the key number on our last poll is that 40 percent of Republican voters didn’t know who they wanted their nominee to be,” Jensen says. “With Virginia Foxx, who was at the top of the heap, now not running, I could see that being up to now 50 percent of Republicans not knowing who they want when we do our September poll. I think it is really wide open, and I think there is a lot of room for more candidates to get in this race.”

Jensen says a recent PPP poll showed that 18 percent of Republicans said that Foxx would be their top choice as candidate to nine percent for both N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger and Jim Cain, and eight percent for N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Of those who have already announced, Jensen says a sleeper may be Greg Brannon, a Cary gynecologist with political roots in the Tea Party movement. Jensen says Brannon has support from “the Ron Paul types.”

Jensen says voters have mixed feelings about Hagan, with 42 percent approving; 41 percent disapproving.

“Even though you see Kay Hagan with pretty substantial leads over all the Republicans at this point, they do have a chance to make this a closer race as they become better known in the state over the next year and three months,” Jensen says.

Hagan was first elected in 2008, defeating then-incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole the general election.