Elaine Marshall is celebrating a victory tonight while Cal Cunningham is predicting one for himself in seven weeks. Today’s statewide primary election didn’t give the party a nominee, but it did cut the field down to the secretary of state and the former Lexington lawmaker who are slated to compete in a June 22 runoff.
- By Jeremy M. Lange
- Secretary of State Elaine Marshall works the room at a Democratic Women of Wake County forum in March.
With 99 of 100 counties reporting results, Marshall (37 percent) garnered the most votes but lacks the 40 percent needed to end the contest. Cunnigham picked up 27 percent of the electorate.
Ken Lewis (17 percent) finished a distant third, but his supporters now could decide the election.
Marshall stopped short of calling on Cunningham to drop out of the race, though she did offer a warning.
“For the last year he has run a clean campaign, and if Cal decides to continue to run this race for the next seven weeks, we’ll beat him again with a larger margin,” she told supporters in Raleigh.
Talking to reporters, Marshall was more pointed. A runoff, she said, would waste Democratic resources that are needed to take on the Republican incumbent, Richard Burr. “Certainly it would be contrary to the party [interests] to be spending resources that could be saved up for the real objective, which is November,” she said.
But if Cunningham wants a runoff, she added, “We’ll roll with it. I love campaigning.”
Cunningham, meanwhile, isn’t shying away from a runoff.
“I look forward to seeing her on the campaign trail, but we will prevail June the 22,” he said at a campaign party in Lexington.