North Carolina: Marshall Gets Lewis Endorsement in Runoff

Posted May 19, 2010 at 6:15pm

Attorney Ken Lewis, the third-place finisher in the Democratic primary, on Wednesday endorsed Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, a move that may turn out to be a game-changer in the sprint to the June 22 Senate runoff.

“Secretary Marshall has shown the kind of courage, strength and independence needed to create change in Washington and fight for the people of North Carolina,” Lewis said in a written statement.

Lewis took 17 percent of the vote on primary night, while Marshall finished first with 36 percent. Marshall now faces former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, the second-place finisher with 27 percent.

A Public Policy Polling survey released last week had shown the two runoff candidates in a statistical dead heat. Cunningham supporters have been depicting their candidate as the one with momentum, so this will throw off that story line.

National party officials are cheering for Cunningham, who was recruited by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to take on Sen. Richard Burr (R).

Lewis, who is black, is expected to help Marshall in the African-American community, where she was already leading Cunningham by a 2-to-1 ratio according to the PPP survey.