Local Politics

Marshall, Cunningham united, determined to defeat Burr

Posted June 17, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2010 11:21 a.m. EDT

— No matter who wins the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination for North Carolina, both candidates say they plan to stand behind their party to defeat incumbent Republican candidate Sen. Richard Burr.

Neither Secretary of State Elaine Marshall nor Lexington attorney Cal Cunningham received the 40 percent of votes in last month's primary election to win the nomination.

"This race is about who can best take on Richard Burr in November," Marshall said.

A run-off election scheduled for Tuesday will decide who will run against Burr, who has represented the state since he beat former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles in 2004.

"I'm standing behind my party and pledging to support her, should she win, as I'm sure, she'll support me," Cunningham said. "We have to work together."

Most political pundits believe the Democrats have a steep climb and to have a realistic chance against Burr, they must be unified.

Burr has said he expects a tough race no matter who the Democrats nominate.

"I have always been a supporter of the Democratic ticket, so I certainly will," Marshall said.

Whether in debates, campaign stops or campaign materials, both Cunningham and Marshall have tried to differentiate themselves from each other, but both seem to agree on many of the same issues.

During a recent debate, Cunningham questioned Marshall's stand on reforming Social Security. Marshall said she's opposed to raising the retirement age to receive full benefits, currently at age 67.

Marshall said she wondered how Cunningham could be independent representing North Carolina residents when he took $150,000 from what she called Washington insiders.

Marshall points to her experience as Secretary of State for more than a decade as her qualification to serve in the Senate.

"I've taken on special interests like health care insurance, Wall Street – the kind of folks that Richard Burr supported," she said.

Cuningham says his experience away from Washington is the change voters are looking for.

"I'm a new guy, a fresh face. I'm going to take some new energy to Washington," he said. "I haven't had a career in politics, and I recognize that North Carolina's looking for something a little different."