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Morning Roundup: Statewide candidates take primary campaign into summer

WAXHAW--The pavement steamed in the summer heat as Dan Forest’s campaign bus rolled into this small town along the state’s southern border for a Fourth of July parade.

On the route, a man wearing a sweat-drenched baseball hat appeared confused. “I thought elections were in the fall. Anyone know who Dan Forest is? What does the lieutenant governor do?” Such is the life of a candidate in North Carolina’s runoff election. It’s lonely – and hot.

Read about the runoff election and see a breakdown on all the races here.

More political headlines: 

--Rob Christensen: When Andy Griffith helped rescue the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Easley in 2000, it was dubbed the “Mayberry Miracle.” Griffith, who died last week, was Tar Heel Democrats’ political ace in the hole, helping them remain competitive in the state while most of the South went Republican.

Marlowe Foster seeks runoff in Democratic labor commissioner race

The second-place finisher in the Democratic labor commissioner primary is asking for a runoff election.

With the formal request, Marlowe Foster will challenge John C. Brooks, the top vote-getter who is seeking a re-election to his former post. Brooks served from 1977 to 1993 as the state's labor commissioner. The three-way May primary didn't allow a candidate to receive more than 40 percent and win outright.

In Democratic primary, voters mostly undecided on down-ballot races

The downballot races in the Democratic primary remain amorphous with huge numbers of undecided voters still looking for a good horse.

Democratic labor candidate announces endorsements

Marlowe Foster, a Democratic candidate for Labor Commissioner, announced more endorsements today from political groups and individuals. Foster has backing from the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, the Durham People's Alliance, the Fairmont Committee on Black Affairs, 2008 Labor Commissioner candidate Mary Fant Donnan, state Reps. Deborah Ross and Grier Martin of Wake County, Former state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Meek, state Rep. Tricia Cotham of Charlotte, Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, state Sen. Doug Berger. and Morrisville Council member Steve Rao. Foster, a Pfizer lobbyist from Raleigh, faces John Brooks and Tyrone Richardson in the Democratic primary. Republican Cherie Berry is the incumbent commissioner.

Democrat files to challenge Republican incumbent for labor commissioner

A Raleigh Democrat entered the race to challenge one of the two Republicans on the Council of State.

Marlowe Foster, a 39-year-old businessman, is making a bid for Labor Commissioner, looking to challenge Republican incumbent Cherie Berry. In his announcement, he echoed the Democratic Party mantra promoting education as the top priority.

He is backed by a number of state lawmakers and prominent Democrats. Read his full announcement below.

Democrat announces for Labor Commissioner

Marlowe Foster of Raleigh says he is running for Labor Commissioner to ensure fairness and transparency in workplace safety inspections and to help create jobs.

Foster, director of U.S. public affairs for Pfizer and a registered lobbyist, announced his candidacy today.  Republican Cherie Berry holds the office. 

The Department of Labor can be "a strong partner with the community college system getting people trained and retrained for jobs," said Foster, 39.

He was one of nine candidates who sought appointment to former state Sen. Vernon Malone's seat, which Sen. Dan Blue won.

RWCA officially endorses Blue

Dan BlueState Rep. Dan Blue also has the official endorsement.

After winning a straw poll by members of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association Saturday, the former House speaker was endorsed Monday night to fill the empty seat of former Sen. Vernon Malone by the group's official political action committee.

"There were some strong candidates in the field, but we feel very confident in Mr. Blue, and feel he'll do a great job as a North Carolina senator," said Anthony L. Blalock, chairman of the M-PAC.

The association's political arm was looking for someone who would immediately do a good job representing the district and would also stand a strong chance of holding on to the seat in future elections, he said.

The Wake County Democratic Party will decide Wednesday on his replacement.

Meantime, rival candidate Marlowe Foster announced that if he is chosen he will donate his salary to Malone's scholarship fund at Shaw University.

"For me, this nomination is not about title or monetary gain," he said. "It is about offering me to the people of the 14th District so they have representation that can be effective from day one and who can run and win in 2010."

Straw poll picks Blue for Senate

Dan BlueA straw poll recommended Rep. Dan Blue move to the Senate.

About 50 people at a forum sponsored by the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association Saturday cast an unofficial vote on who should fill former Sen. Vernon Malone's seat.

The candidates were Blue, Bernard Allen Jr., former educator Carol Dalenko Bennett, Pfizer lobbyist Marlowe Foster, Wake school board member Rosa Gill, media consultant J. Mills Holloway, former DMV director Alexander Killens and St. Augustine's College provost Kim Luckes.

RWCA president Dan Coleman said that Blue won the straw poll by a significant margin, followed by Holloway.

The group's political action committee will meet tonight to take a formal vote. The result will then be forwarded to the Wake County Democratic Party, which will make a final nomination for Gov. Beverly Perdue.

"The Wake County Democratic Party is not necessarily beholden to that endorsement," said Coleman.

Results of the straw poll after the jump.

Nine seek Malone's empty seat

Nine people are running for former Sen. Vernon Malone's seat.

N&O education reporter Keung Hui forwarded this list of candidates who will speak at the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association meeting this weekend:

Rosa Gill, 64, chairwoman of Wake County School Board

Marlowe Foster, 38, lobbyist for Pfizer Corporation, ran unsuccessfully for Winston-Salem City Council in 2002.

Alexander Killens, 54, former director of N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles

Bernard Allen Jr., 44, son of former North Carolina representative

Dan Blue, 59, state representative, former speaker

Jay Holloway, Jr., 47, director of Learning Ventures, UNC Public Television

Kim Luckes, 52, executive vice president of St. Augustine's College

Carol Dalenko Bennett, 66, real estate broker, ran against Malone in 2008

Bruce Lightner, 61, president of Lightner Funeral Home

Former UNC-TV exec seeks seat

A former UNC-TV executive is interested in state Sen. Vernon Malone's seat.

Jay Holloway, who worked for the public television channel for nearly 14 years, announced recently that he is seeking the nomination of the Wake County Democratic Party for the seat left empty by Malone's recent death.

Holloway said he would announce a five-point plan to improve education and bring green jobs to the Triangle area.

"We must be innovative in offering real-life solutions to the everyday kitchen table discussions of the residents of District 14," he said in a statement.

Wake County school board member Rosa Gill, Pfizer lobbyist Marlowe W. Foster, and the son of former state Rep. Bernard Allen are also seeking the nomination.

The Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association will make a recommendation to the Wake County Democratic Party, which will name Malone's replacement.

Update: Former DMV director Alexander Killens has also announced he's running for the open seat.

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