Burr is Democrats' foil as NC Senate primary nears

Burr is Democrats' foil as NC Senate primary nears

Sen. Richard Burr


by GARY D. ROBERTSON / Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on April 30, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Will a candidate's position on the health care debate influence your vote in the May primary in North Carolina or the June primary in South Carolina?

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate on Thursday separately criticized Republican incumbent Richard Burr as Elaine Marshall used the steps of a bank building and Cal Cunningham an 18-wheeler to make their points.

Cunningham, a former state senator from Lexington, began a 10-stop tour in Charlotte and Salisbury with a big rig to symbolize what he calls the 18 times Burr voted while in Congress to send U.S. jobs overseas through trade deals and tax breaks.

The truck also represents more goods being shipped on the state's highways, which he said in an interview will occur if his job-creation proposals are approved.

"We need to make things here," Cunningham said. "We've got to rebuild the manufacturing base."

Marshall spoke from steps outside the Wachovia Building in downtown Raleigh to call on Congress to approve a reform bill that seeks tougher oversight of financial institutions. Marshall accused Burr of obstructionism as GOP senators blocked debate earlier this week, but Republicans gave way Wednesday for votes to begin.

Wells Fargo Corp. acquired Wachovia Corp. in late 2008 after the Charlotte-based bank lost billions of dollars on failed mortgages.

"For over 100 years, Wachovia Bank stood as a proud example of North Carolina's banking industry," said Marshall, the state's top securities regulator. The state lost Wachovia, she added: "We cannot allow this to happen again. It's time to fix our broken financial system."

Marshall and Cunningham are among six candidates in next week's primary. Another leading Democratic candidate, Ken Lewis of Chapel Hill, scheduled to campaign door-to-door Thursday evening in Orange County and speak later at a barbecue to talk about his jobs plan, a campaign spokesman said.

Burr has his own primary against three GOP candidates, but his focus largely has been on the general election.

"Unfortunately, the Democrats continue to run negative campaigns designed to deceive the people of North Carolina," Burr campaign spokeswoman Samantha Smith said in a prepared statement. "They only want to maintain the status quo and continue the liberal agenda of reckless spending and growing government."

Marshall's campaign said it began running a television ad in the Raleigh and Greensboro markets Thursday trumpeting what she calls her past record of challenging banks who preyed on the elderly and insurance companies who denied health care to patients. The ads will spread to eastern TV markets Friday, campaign official A.J. Carillo said.

Cunningham has been running TV commercials for more than two weeks that are now airing in the state's six broadcast television markets, spokesman Jared Leopold said.

Lewis began running radio ads this week but has yet to go on television. His latest radio ad argues Cunningham has been inconsistent on the subject of bonuses for bank regulators last year when he served on the state banking commission. Cunningham said he never voted for the bonuses, which were never given out.

The top two vote-getters in each primary will advance to a June 22 runoff if the leading candidate doesn't receive more than 40 percent of the vote.