by Joe Schwartz
Elaine Marshall is celebrating a victory tonight while Cal Cunningham is predicting one for himself in seven weeks. Today’s statewide primary election didn’t give the party a nominee, but it did cut the field down to the secretary of state and the former Lexington lawmaker who are slated to compete in a June 22 runoff.
Ken Lewis (17 percent) finished a distant third, but his supporters now could decide the election.
Marshall stopped short of calling on Cunningham to drop out of the race, though she did offer a warning.
“For the last year he has run a clean campaign, and if Cal decides to continue to run this race for the next seven weeks, we’ll beat him again with a larger margin,” she told supporters in Raleigh.
Talking to reporters, Marshall was more pointed. A runoff, she said, would waste Democratic resources that are needed to take on the Republican incumbent, Richard Burr. "Certainly it would be contrary to the party [interests] to be spending resources that could be saved up for the real objective, which is November," she said.
But if Cunningham wants a runoff, she added, "We'll roll with it. I love campaigning."
Cunningham, meanwhile, isn’t shying away from a runoff.
“I look forward to seeing her on the campaign trail, but we will prevail June the 22,” he said at a campaign party in Lexington.