Jim Neal is an entrepreneur and former investment banker who was a candidate for the U.S. Senate (D-NC ) in 2008. He finished second to Kay Hagan in the Democratic primary, and Hagan subsequently defeated incumbent Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in the general election. He is the second openly-gay candidate for the Senate in U.S. history. He is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, and currently lives in New York City.
Early life and educationEdit
James Weatherly Neal Jr. was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on November 6, 1956. "Little Jimmy" was named after his paternal great-grandfather, James Milton "Daddy Jim" Weatherly, a tobacco farmer who served as the Superintendent of the Rockingham County Department of Highways in the early 20th century. He attended Walter Hines Page High School (Greensboro, NC) in the early 1970s. His parents never graduated from college and Neal was the first member of his family to do so in 1978 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned a B.S. from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business. After graduating from UNC, he worked as a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs, and later obtained a masters degree in finance from the University of Chicago in 1983.
Jim’s late parents, James Weatherly and Mildred Hartzoge Neal, were lifelong residents of North Carolina. His grandparents- a carpenter, an elementary school teacher and two mill workers—profoundly influenced his commitment to public service. His many aunts, uncles and cousins reside across all corners of the state. Jim has two sons James (22) and Winston (20).
The 2008 campaign for United States Senate was Jim Neal's first attempt at elective office. He has, however, been involved in politics for many years. Neal worked as a volunteer as a youth for Lyndon Johnson's 1964 presidential campaign, the 1968 Judge L. Richardson Preyer campaign for Congress and the 1972 Hargrove Skipper Bowles campaign for Governor. As a young man, he was a grass roots volunteer with the presidential campaigns of both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. In 2004 Neal served as a member of the National Campaign Finance Committees of presidential candidates Wesley Clark and John Kerry and also assisted NC Democratic US Senate candidate Erskine Bowles in his second attempt to capture a Senate seat in 2004. In the 2008 Democratic primary, Neal faced state Sen. Kay R. Hagan of Greensboro, podiatrist Howard Staley of Moncure, Lexington trucker Duskin Lassiter and Lumberton attorney Marcus Williams. Neal earned the endorsement of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, whose Chairman Dwayne Collins said “The membership of the Black Political Caucus is proud to support Mr. Neal with our endorsement in the U.S. Senate race. We thought Jim is the ideal candidate to defeat Elizabeth Dole, and that is why we are behind his candidacy. He was the best candidate on the issues that affect all citizens, but especially members of the African American community. We look forward to working with Jim Neal to improve the lives of the human family of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.” He also was endorsed by Blue America PAC, eQualityGiving, the Independent Weekly and YES ! Weekly. Neal finished second in the May 6th 2008 primary and the victor Kay Hagan is the Democratic challenger to Senator Elizabeth Dole in the November 2008 general election.
Neal lives in Chapel Hill with the younger of his two sons, Winston; the older, James, is currently working in New York City. The divorced Neal is gay, but declared that it would not hurt his chances for securing the Democratic nomination in the U.S. Senate race. "[It's] no secret and no big deal to me — I wouldn't be running if I didn't think otherwise." 
Following graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1978, he joined Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst. He returned to school at the University of Chicago where he earned an Masters Degree in Finance while working a series of part-time jobs to pay his way through school. As an investment banker at Salomon Brothers he earned a reputation for leadership and innovative strategies while advising Fortune 500 companies on how to play successful roles in a changing global economy.
For the past two decades, Neal has focused his career on information technology and healthcare companies, including serving as chief executive officer of RxMarketplace.com, a start-up firm that helped pharmacists offer patients prescription drugs at more affordable prices.
Neal has continued his active involvement in nonprofit groups and political initiatives, as a member of the Board of Governors of The New School from 2002 to 2006, he also served as a national finance committee member for Wes Clark for President and the Kerry-Edwards campaigns, as well as acting as a national fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles in 2004.
Neal has served his community as an overnight volunteer at a homeless shelter, a lay minister to mentally ill residents of an assisted-care facility, and a sponsor of a post-war Vietnamese refugee family in alliance with the International Rescue Committee.
North Carolina Democratic primary 2008Edit
In the North Carolina Democratic Primary on May 6, 2008, Jim Neal faced state Senator Kay Hagan, podiatrist Howard Staley, trucker Duskin Lassiter, and lawyer Marcus Williams. Hagan defeated Neal with 60% of the vote to his 18%, although Neal carried two counties in western North Carolina.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Jim Neal Biography. Jim Neal for Senate website.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Profile of U.S. Senate Candidate Jim Neal. News & Observer (2007-10-04). Retrieved on 2008-03-18.
- ↑ Neal: Being gay 'no big deal'. News & Observer (2007-10-22).
- ↑ Good morning, Jim Neal. BlueNC.com (2007-10-20).
- ↑ US SENATE - DEM. North Carolina Board of Elections.