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Part-time party time

by Brian Clarey

Everybody in the Piedmont Triad knew that all the action on Tuesday’s primary election ballot was in the Republican party.

Well… maybe not everyone. In Guilford County, slightly more than 10 percent of registered voters cared to cast ballots in last week’s primary. Forsyth County fared little better, enticing 12 percent of its voters to the polls.

Well folks, you missed a doozy. Longtime NC Rep. Earl Jones got bumped off by relative unknown who cut his teeth working on the Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign of 2008. Greensboro City Council District 4 Representative Trudy Wade showed that a Republican with a little name recognition could get some votes in NC Senate District 28, and in that same district Gladys Robinson showed that a political torch can successfully be passed. US Rep Howard Coble, the old rascal, fended off opposition successfully with a monster showing in District 6.

And in one of the biggest stories of the season, NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall topped rising star Cal Cunningham by almost 10 percent in the US Senate, noteworthy because these two will be facing off in a highprofile runoff June 22 to see who will face Republican Sen.

Richard Burr, who took his primary with 80 percent of the vote, in the fall.

You might remember Burr took the seat in 2004, after its previous occupant, John Edwards, stepped up as John Kerry’s vice-presidential nominee. Edwards’ career has made some twists and turns since then, and Burr has established himself as party-line GOP faithful, one of the most conservative voices in the Senate — which these days means using the word “no” a lot.

But the buzz on Burr is that he’s vulnerable this year, and before the primary it was Cunnningham who attracted the attention of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Still, it’s a tough one to call. Democrats outvoted Republicans in the primary races by about 50,000. But there are plenty of registered Democrats in North Carolina who couldn’t vote for Burr in the primary but plan to do so in November. Voter turnout could be an issue for the Dems, who need to convince their base that unseating Burr is motivation enough to get out to the polls.

From the outside looking in, Cuningham always looked to be the man — handsome, nice family, decorated veteran, successful businessman — but now the DSCC may be taking another look at this race, wondering if maybe Marshall should be the horse to back, or maybe that their attentions — and their money — could be better spent on another state.

Right now the man holding all the cards is Ken Lewis, who garnered 17 percent of the vote, enough of a bloc to give Cunningham the edge over Marshall on June 22, and perhaps enough to establish Marshall as a viable threat to Burr in the eyes of the DSCC.

Lewis, for now, remains silent.

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