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The Daily Tar Heel

Cunningham Aims To Push Education

Senator-elect Cal Cunningham, UNC student body president from 1995-1996, was elected Nov. 7 to the Senate from the the 23rd District, which includes parts of Davidson and Iredell counties in western North Carolina.

Cunningham will replace Sen. Jim Phillips, D-Davidson, who served for four years.

But Republican officials say Cunningham should never have run because he did not live in District 23.

Dan Gurley, N.C. Republican Party political director, said documents showed Cunningham voting in municipal elections in Orange County, and the case was referred to the Davidson County Board of Elections. "The Board of Elections ruled in his favor, but the Board of Elections in North Carolina is controlled by Democrats," he said.

But Cunningham said the controversy was just a ploy on the part of his opponent to draw attention to his youth.

He said the matter was brought before the N.C. Board of Elections as well as the county Board of Elections and was thrown out both times.

"(The Republicans) wanted to draw out the fact that I'm young and recently out of school."

Cunningham attributed his victory partly to the help of some UNC students. "I owe (the win) to a lot of people, including a lot of students from Chapel Hill who came down to help with door-to-door campaigns."

Cunningham, who is in his mid-20s, said he developed a desire to run for state office while at UNC.

"I believe very strongly in public service, which I learned at Chapel Hill," he said.

Cunningham, who will take office in January, said he will focus on supporting education from elementary schools to universities.

N.C. Democratic party officials were pleased with Cunningham's win, said Caroline Voland, N.C. Senate Committee director for the N.C. Democratic Party.

"We are very excited that Cal is going to be the newest member of the N.C. Senate," she said.

"I think Cal has a bright future."

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