Under the Dome

Cunningham takes lead in runoff fundraising

June 15, 2010 

Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham has raised $1.2 million, while his rival in the June 22 runoff, Elaine Marshall, has raised $775,003, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Neither campaign was flush with cash. Marshall had $193,172 on hand as of June 2, while Cunningham had $107,469 on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission.

While Cunningham has been the leader in fundraising throughout the campaign, Marshall's first place finish in the May 4 primary appears to have given her a boost, enabling her to compete nearly evenly with Cunningham.

For the most current reporting period - from April 15 through June 2 - Cunningham raised $377,479 and Marshall raised $331,688.

Cunningham had earlier this year lent his campaign $86,000, and Marshall's family last year lent her campaign $71,500.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee contributed $79,980 to Cunningham's campaign.

School leaders decry cuts

School superintendents from across the state spoke out against more budget cuts to K-12 education at a news conference Monday.

Superintendents from Wake, Orange, Chatham and about a half dozen other counties said absorbing more cuts might send public education into a tailspin.

Describing the impact of budget cuts they had to make last year, some said students already attend dirtier schools, have less help learning to read and have fewer chances to take foreign language and Advanced Placement courses.

"Class sizes will increase beyond the ability to manage them," said Donna Hargens, interim Wake County superintendent.

The cuts are coming as the public expects more from schools, said Patrick Rhodes, superintendent in Orange County.

"It will be difficult, if not impossible, to support high levels of achievement" when students get less personal attention because the teachers must work with more students, he said.

Education press conferences are becoming routine as teachers and administrators scrap for as much money as they can get from a recessionary budget. The House and Senate have passed different versions of the budget and negotiators are working out a compromise that legislators say they will approve by the end of the month.

Lottery supporter wins

One of the big backers behind creating the state's lottery has won $200,000.

John Wilson, the executive director of the National Education Association, won $200,000 by matching five white balls but not the Power Ball in the April 17 drawing.

Wilson, who works in Washington but maintains a home in Raleigh, had been a major supporter of creating a lottery.

"I purchase tickets every time I gas up," Wilson said. "I play to help raise money for education in the state."

Wilson plans to use his winnings, worth $136,000 after taxes, to make some investments. The ticket was purchased at D&T Mini Mart on Western Boulevard in Raleigh.

Debate set for 7 tonight

Tonight's Democratic Senate primary debate on NBC-17, which had been scheduled for 8 p.m. has been moved up one hour and will be shown at 7 p.m. to accommodate an 8 p.m. speech by President Barack Obama.

By staff writers Rob Christensen and Lynn Bonner

robc@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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