Flair aims to be N.C governor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Wrestler Ric "Nature Boy" Flair wants to follow the lead of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, now Minnesota's governor, and run for governor of North Carolina.
"Well, you know Mean Gene!"
Flair, a 50-year-old platinum-maned pro wrestler, said Monday on the "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" TV show that he might run as an independent candidate.
"I'm putting together a team, and I'm going to take a shot at it," Flair said after the show.
The subject arose when host Regis Philbin asked Flair whether he had ever thought about the governor's job.
"Unofficially, I am going to run for governor myself," Flair said. "This is the unofficial, official announcement.
The last time a celebrity tried his hand in North Carolina politics was in 1996, when NASCAR driver Richard Petty lost his bid to be elected secretary of state.
"Actually, I have been asked to run for office a lot over the last 10 years. Jesse proved that anything can happen," Flair said. "He is a charismatic guy. I think the political system is open to a lot of opportunities right now."
Flair, whose real name is Richard Morgan Fliehr, has lived in Charlotte since 1974. He is a partner in nine gyms across the state and wrestles on the World Championship Wrestling circuit.
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound wrestler has played heroes and villains in the ring, but always has been flamboyant with elaborate robes sporting rhinestones and peacock feathers.
"I may have to tone down a few things, but I think charisma can go a long way," Flair said.
He already has dabbled in Republican politics.
He sat at the head table with President Bush at a fund-raiser for U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms in 1990. In 1998, he campaigned for the re-election of Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C. He also campaigned for U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth, a Republican who lost to Democrat John Edwards in 1998.
If Flair enters the race as a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian, he must file by Feb. 7. Running as an independent or Reform Party candidate would be tougher.
The gubernatorial field already is crowded with candidates seeking to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt. Candidates include Republicans Leo Daughtry, Art Manning, Chuck Neely and Richard Vinroot, and Democrats Bob Ayres, Mike Easley and Dennis Wicker.