N.C. Democrats are looking ahead to the November election regardless of who won Tuesday’s runoff.
When N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall clinched the Democratic Senate nomination with 60 percent of the vote Tuesday night, her opponent Cal Cunningham and his supporters endorsed her candidacy, ready to take on U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., in November’s general election.
“People are excited to beat Burr regardless of who was going to do it,” said UNC Student Body Treasurer Dakota Williams, who supported 1995-96 UNC Student Body President Cunningham at his election watch party in Lexington.
“His speech was very energetic and very motivating. He congratulated Elaine very gracefully on his end,” Williams said. “He never mentioned defeat. It was a personal defeat, but at the end of the day it was the Democratic Party that won.”
Marshall is likely to take on Burr as the anti-business candidate representing grassroots N.C. issues.
“Her initial moment to make an impression on North Carolinians for the general election was to position herself as the voice for regular families, regular people, versus big interests, big government,” said Ferrel Guillory, a UNC journalism professor and director of Programs on Public Life.
In a June survey by Public Policy Polling, Burr led Marshall by seven points and led Cunningham by 11.
“Marshall is looking considerably more competitive against Richard Burr at this point in the election cycle than Kay Hagan did against Elizabeth Dole two years ago,” Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen stated in a press release.
Guillory said Marshall’s next step is to win over independent voters.
“She’s going to have to fight for it. She is going to have to convince a lot of North Carolinians who didn’t vote for her … that she’s more in tune with their attitudes and their interests than Burr is,” Guillory said.
As for Cunningham, Guillory said he sees him staying on the radar.
“This is not a rejection of Cal Cunningham forever and ever. His thing was a younger, emerging leader for the future, and that’s important that a political party have people like (him) ready to run.”
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