The Senate race is still wide open.
Still, the field has narrowed a bit. Here's a rundown:
TOP PROSPECTS: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee still prefers a name-brand candidate. To that end, they're putting pressure locally and in D.C. on their preferred candidate, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler of Waynesville. Rep. Mike McIntyre of Lumberton is also interested.
SECOND TIER: Iraq war vet Cal Cunningham and Durham lawyer Kenneth Lewis continue to test the waters with speeches before Democratic meetings and a Facebook group (for Cunningham) among other things. State Sen. Malcolm Graham and Dan Blue are dropping hints as well.
BLACK VOTERS: After Barack Obama's 2008 wins in North Carolina, black voters are excited about their 2010 prospects. Graham, Lewis or Blue could be the next hope to take up the mantle of two-time candidate Harvey Gantt. McIntyre, who has a number of black voters in his district, could also do well within the community.
LIBERAL VOTERS: By some accounts, Democratic primary voters in North Carolina are more liberal than they've been in the past. While Shuler or McIntyre would do well in a general election matchup with the conservative Sen. Richard Burr, they may have a tougher road in a primary fight with Cunningham, Lewis, Graham or Blue, who are more liberal.
The conventional wisdom right now is that Shuler is the establishment favorite and Cunningham the best of the dark horse candidates. A lot may depend on how well the various candidates do at fundraising.