Durham Mayor Bill Bell endorsed Ken Lewis for U.S. Senate today, joining two former local mayors in backing the local lawyer in the May 4 Democratic primary.

‘During the more than 20 years I have known Ken as a business lawyer and community leader in the Durham area; I have seen the breadth of his experience. In this brutal recession, Ken’s strong record is exactly the leadership experience North Carolina needs,” Bell said in a press release.

Lewis, a Chapel Hill resident with a Durham law practice, is running against five competitors in the fight for Richard Burr’s senate seat.

Numbers released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling showed N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall leading primary race with 20 percent compared to 16 percent for former State Sen. Cal Cunningham and 11 percent for Lewis. The survey also showed Lewis gaining momentum, earning a six point jump during the last month.

Bell joins U.S. Representatives Mel Watt and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, former Durham Mayor and N.C. Sen. Wib Gulley and former Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, who himself flirted with a run for the senate seat, in endorsing Lewis.

Bell has served as Durham’s mayor since 2001 after working as a Durham County commissioner for three decades.

‘I am honored to have Mayor Bell’s support,” Lewis said in the release. “Mayor Bell was one of the very first mayors in North Carolina to publicly announce his support for President Obama’s candidacy. His work on the Durham County Board of Commissioners and for the past eight years as Durham’s mayor has led to Durham’s national recognition as one of the best places for families and businesses to grow.”