Can an urbane, soft-spoken executive unseat North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms? On May 1, Charles Sanders quit his job to run against the 23-year veteran. His pitch: "I'm neither conservative, nor liberal, nor ideological. I know how to solve problems."

The Democrat, 63, has some resume: A cardiologist, he was in the Air Force Medical Corps and once ran Massachusetts General Hospital. For the past six years, he has been chairman of the U.S. arm of Britain's Glaxo Holdings PLC in North Carolina. His brother, Judge Barefoot Sanders of U.S. District Court in Dallas, is a former aide to Lyndon Johnson.

But the vitriolic Helms may find some soft spots to attack. Sanders, a Dallas native, has been in North Carolina just since 1989 and has never held public office. If he wins the primary, he'll have to withstand Helms's strident campaigning. In 1990, Helms ads played off blacks against whites on affirmative action. Sanders says he finds negative campaigning "abhorrent," but adds: "Who knows what you'll do when they start calling you names?"

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