Local Politics

Former opponent endorses Marshall in Senate race

Posted May 19, 2010 9:34 a.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2010 2:07 p.m. EDT

— Durham attorney Ken Lewis, who finished third in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, on Wednesday will endorse North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in the race.

Marshall will face former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington in a June 22 runoff to determine who will face Republican Sen. Richard Burr in November.

Marshall was the leader in the six-person May 4 primary, with 36 percent of the vote, followed by Cunningham at 27 percent. Lewis finished third at 17 percent.

The runoff was necessary because no candidate garnered at least 40 percent of the vote.

"I have asked Democrats to move away from the sidelines and take a position on who should be the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate. I have asked Democrats to put a stake in the ground for the kind of leadership they want in the Senate. As we approach the runoff election, I can do no less," Lewis said during a Raleigh news conference to announce his support for Marshall.

Marshall didn't back down when the national Democratic Party drafted Cunningham to oppose Burr, Lewis said. She also would provide "a passionate voice for working families" in Washington, D.C., and has the needed broad-based support to win the November election, he said.

The Democratic race has been civil, with candidates choosing to attack Burr instead of each other. That could change in a series of debates between Marshall and Cunningham in the weeks leading up to runoff.