Hopeful attacks Burr on health bill

Would-be senator hits 'career politicians'

Staff writerDecember 4, 2009 

— Democratic Senate candidate Kenneth Lewis criticized Republican Sen. Richard Burr's position on health care legislation Thursday, saying he was part of the Washington establishment that had blocked efforts to make health care more affordable.

He said Burr's opposition toDemocratic efforts to overhaul health care insurance is an indication that he has spent too long in Washington.

Washington is "run by career politicians who care more about preserving the status quo, which is floating along on special interest money," Lewis told 40 people at a rally at an art gallery in a restored industrial building in Durham. "[Washington] cares more about health insurance company profits as opposed to providing affordable universal health care.''

He said that Burr has received $1.7 million in contributions from health care industry interests.

Lewis supports a health care bill that includes a public option that would provide competition for private insurance companies.

A resident of Chapel Hill, Lewis began his campaign effort Thursday in Durham, where he practices law. He is seeking to become the state's first African-American senator.

Lewis has picked up the endorsement of former Durham Mayor Wib Gulley, who also served in the state Senate.

Gulley called Lewis "a quiet hero" who left a job as a partner in a blue-chip law firm to use his Harvard law degree to help nonprofits build affordable housing and promote responsible lending.

"We know it won't be easy," Gulley said. "We know it will be uphill. But great things have been accomplished in this city and this state and this nation in the last couple of years because folks said, 'Yes we can. We can do that.'"

That was a reference to the election last year of President Barack Obama, on whose behalf Lewis worked.

The other announced Democratic candidate is Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, although former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington is expected to enter the race shortly with the encouragement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

rob.christensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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