Local Politics

Dems battle summer vacation to get voters' attention

A runoff election for the U.S. Senate between Democratic candidates Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham will be held June 22.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In early November, people might be more focused on voting than on vacations, but in mid-June, it's the other way around, which has the Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate scrambling to draw attention to the race.

A June 22 runoff election between North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham will determine who will oppose Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in the fall.

Watch the Democratic Senate candidates debate at 7 p.m. Thursday on WRAL-TV or WRAL.com. After the debate, watch live analysis on WRAL.com with Cullen Browder of WRAL, Laura Leslie of WUNC-FM and Jack Betts of The Charlotte Observer.

Marshall has run several statewide campaigns, and she said she understands people focus on graduations more than government at this time of year.

"Early voting has started. I wish the numbers were a little better. No, I wish the numbers were considerably better," she said.

Like Marshall, Cunningham said he is looking for votes and voter interest wherever he can find it.

"We've been in eastern North Carolina the past couple of days. We've been in the southeastern part of the state. We're here in the Triangle pressing the flesh, shaking hands (and) answering a lot of voters' questions," he said.

Most people are interested in how the government is addressing the economy and the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but for the Democratic base, the concerns are more specific.

"The objective here is to beat – unseat – a Republican incumbent who has not been doing his job," Cunningham said.

"When we talk to Democrats, they want to know who's going to be the best and strongest to stand up to Burr, in addition to the substantive issues," Marshall said.

Both candidates are loyal to the Democratic Party, its principles and President Barack Obama, but they're trying to separate themselves in the minds of voters while focusing their attacks on Burr instead of each other.

Marshall cited "being able to take on special interests and win (and) being able to take on the medical profession and win and get results" as the difference between her and Cunningham.

He countered, "The electorate is looking for new, energetic voices to go to Washington and deal with some of the challenges that we're facing, and that's what we're presenting in this campaign."



David Crabtree, Reporter
Tom Normanly, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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