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Ailing Sen. East Won't Run Again, Supports Ex-Envoy

September 17, 1985|Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — Wheelchair-bound Sen. John P. East, who has been recovering from a thyroid problem, announced today that he will not seek election to a second term in 1986.

The 54-year-old Republican, a close ally of the state's senior senator, Republican Jesse Helms, threw his support to David Funderburk, former U.S. ambassador to Romania, for the GOP nomination for the post.

"The election to fill my seat in 1986 could well determine whether Republicans maintain a majority in the . . . Senate for the last two years of President Reagan's term," East said.

"We have a choice of electing someone who will help further President Reagan's programs . . . or a Democrat who marches in lock-step with Walter Mondale and the liberals in the national Democratic Party."

In a statement read by an aide, East, who is recuperating at his Greenville home, said his interest in "the political process and the conservative cause remains undiminished and unabated," and he will complete his term. East, who was stricken by polio in 1955, is the only senator to use a wheelchair.

Speculation in both Democratic and Republican parties about possible Senate candidates for 1986 picked up after former Gov. Jim Hunt announced last week that he would not seek the Democratic nomination for East's seat. Former Gov. Terry Sanford is among the Democrats who have expressed interest in their party's nomination.

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