An effort is underway to draft Elizabeth Dole to run for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina.  Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, who is 79 years old,  is expected to announce Wednesday night  that he will not seek re-election.

Dole has already said through her spokesperson that she is giving "strong consideration" to the idea of running. 

National GOP figures have been wooing Dole for several weeks, and presidential adviser Karl Rove has been in touch with her.

Businessman Robert Luddy of Youngsville, N.C., and Attorney Randy Doub of Greenville, N.C., are spearheading the effort. The former finance chairman of the North Caorlina GOP, K.D. Kennedy of Raleigh, is also involved.

Dole has not lived in the Tar Heel State for 40 years. During that time she has worked as cabinet secretaries for two Republican presidents; she ran for the GOP presidential nomination herself in 2000; she served as president of the Red Cross; and she campaigned for her husband, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who three times ran for president.

All the preparations are predicated on Sen. Helms not running again.