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Hagan's biofuel amendment clears Senate

A progressive national security group is lauding an amendment by Sen. Kay Hagan to the National Defense Authorization Act, a law that among other things sets the Defense Department's budget.

Hagan's amendment, which passed Thursday on a 54-41 vote, would repeal a section previously added by Sen. John McCain that prohibits the Defense Department from entering contracts to plan, design, refurbish or build a biofuels plant unless specifically authorized by law.

Cunningham quacks like a candidate

Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington continues to act like a U.S. Senate candidate, but he is not yet ready to announce a decision.

Cunningham was working the crowd at the Democrat's annual Vance-Aycock fund raising dinner in Asheville over the weekend, and he spent a few days last week in Washington attending a seminar put on by The Truman National Security Project, which trains young Democrats on security issues, Rob Christensen reports. He also met with Sen. John Kerry of Mass. and others.

But Cunningham said he has not made a decision on whether to enter the 2010 race for the seat now held by Republican Sen. Richard Burr.

"I am continuing to test the waters with Democrats around North Carolina," Cunningham said. But he added: "I am very heartened by the encouragement. North Carolina is looking for energetic new leadership."

Cunningham may be holding off until he sees what Congressman Bob Etheridge of Lillington decides.

Etheridge has been encouraged to get into the race by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which carries a lot of clout because of its ability to bank roll a Senate campaign. But Etheridge has not been moving around the state, and he was not at the Vance-Aycock Dinner, which is considered a must for a potential Democratic Senate candidate.

There are already two Democratic Senate candidates in the race, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Durham attorney Kenneth Lewis. Both Marshall and Lewis hosted hospitality suites at the Grove Park Inn, the site of the dinner.

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