It's official: Marshall enters Senate primary

Staff writerFebruary 23, 2010 

— N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall made her candidacy official Monday, filing paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate.

Surrounded by a dozen supporters at the State Board of Elections, Marshall presented herself as the Democratic candidate in the Democratic primary with a record for taking on Wall Street, protecting small investors and helping businesses.

In the campaign, Marshall has put a spotlight on the responsibilities of her office, including investigation of investment scams and trademark infringement.

"At a time when Americans were losing their savings and their pensions, my office was protecting consumers by cracking down on scam artists ... who were selling bogus investments," she said.

Marshall said her experience distinguishes her from her competitors.

"The voters have something they can rely upon rather than folks that make very good stump speeches but don't have a track record," she said.

Three other candidates are running for the Democratic nomination: former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, a lawyer from Lexington; Chapel Hill lawyer Ken Lewis; and Lumberton lawyer Marcus Williams.

As she signed papers declaring her candidacy, Marshall joked with an election official about how familiar she was with the ritual.

Marshall, 64, is a former state senator who was first elected secretary of state in 1996, defeating NASCAR driver Richard Petty. She was the first woman elected to statewide executive office. In 2002, she came in third in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

This primary campaign is already well under way, with debate challenges flying and candidates jockeying for endorsements.

The latest was Cunningham's call for an "open discussion" on jobs at a state Democratic Party executive committee meeting on March 6 in Durham.

Marshall said that she might have a conflict on her March 6 schedule but that the candidates have many chances to answer questions during joint appearances on the campaign trail.

The candidates were together in Winston-Salem on Sunday, she said, and are scheduled to be in Chatham County today. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican incumbent, had an aide file his paperwork with the State Board of Elections on Monday.

lynn.bonner@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4821

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