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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cal Cunningham vs Richard Burr: Driving Lessons & Black Community Endorsements

Richard Burr Was The Target Of N.C. Democrats At Convention

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates saved their harsh words for Republican opponent Richard Burr at a Democratic convention Saturday at UNC Charlotte.

Cal Cunningham and Elaine Marshall, facing a June 22 runoff to challenge incumbent Burr, were cordial to each other in a question-and-answer session - but criticized Burr on foreign policy, health care and other issues.

"We need somebody who'll stand up to the status quo," said Secretary of State Marshall, denouncing Burr's vote against the health care overhaul that President Barack Obama signed in March.

"We're going to have to teach a little driver's ed this fall," Cunningham, an Army Reserve lawyer and former state senator, told the crowd of about 150.

For the country to move forward, it needs to move the gearshift to "D" - for Democrats, he said - instead of staying stuck in reverse like the Republicans.

Both candidates said they support some collective bargaining for public employees and favor alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. They both decried Arizona's new immigration law.

A survey by Raleigh's Public Policy Polling this month found the Democratic race tied at 36 percent. That represented an advance for Cunningham, who trailed Marshall by 9 percentage points.

Polling director Tom Jensen called it "an intensity issue," with Cunningham's supporters more energized than Marshall's.

But since then, Marshall has won the endorsement of African-American lawyer Ken Lewis, who finished third in the May 4 election.

Last week, Cunningham acknowledged that he has to build bridges in the African-American community and in Charlotte. He finished third in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County after Marshall and Lewis, who split most of the Black vote.

At Saturday's three-district convention, enthusiasm ran high for both candidates, judging from the cheers and standing ovations.

"To serve in Iraq shows his commitment to this nation," convention delegate Mary Cridlebaugh of Davidson County said of Cunningham. "He has potential for national leadership - Franklin D. Roosevelt-type leadership."

"She has a record that speaks for itself," delegate P.E. "Phil" Bazemore of Monroe said of Marshall. "She works continuously looking for the thing that needs to be done. And she works with others to make sure it gets done."

Cal Cunningham Touts Endorsements From Black N.C. Leaders

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham on Friday picked up the support of both Forsyth County state House members – Reps. Earline Parmon and Larry Womble.

He also won the backing of Winston-Salem City Council members James Taylor and Derwin Montgomery and County Commissioner Walter Marshall, Rob Christensen reports.

All are African-Americans, a demographic where Cunningham has trailed Secretary of State Elaine Marshall as the June 22nd primary runoff approaches.

Both Montgomery and Marshall had endorsed Chapel Hill lawyer Ken Lewis in the first Democratic primary. Earlier in the week, Lewis endorsed Marshall.

Cunningham has strong ties to the Winston-Salem area, practicing law in the Winston-Salem office of Kilpatrick Stockton.

"As a lifelong resident of the Triad, Cal understands the difficulties facing us," Womble said on Friday.

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Sources: McClatchy Newspapers, N.C. General Assembly, Google Maps

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