Gov. Mike Easley announced last week that he will not challenge Sen. Elizabeth Dole. The decision comes as a great relief to the GOP, as Dole has trailed in recent polling. While not among the country`s most popular Senators, Dole is now looking pretty good, as other potential challengers trail her by as many as 15 points. The race could get interesting, but Dole`s prolific fundraising, for her own races, makes the challenge a formidable task for any Democrat, especially in a year in which the Presidential race is at the top of the ballot. Ultimately, Easley`s decision likely means that the race will assume second tier status and probably be among those to fall by wayside as the cycle progresses.