Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington has apparently changed his mind, and is moving toward entering the U.S. Senate race next year.
Cunningham, an Iraq war veteran, last month announced he was ending an exploratory effort and would not challenge Republican Sen. Richard Burr in 2010, Rob Christensen reports.
Since then, Cunningham has been heavily courted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has has been urging him to reconsider his decision.
Cunningham was not returning calls Tuesday. But the word on the street is that he has signaled to Democrats in Washington that he is prepared to enter the race.
He is apparently holding off making any statement for a few days out of respect for Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who lost her husband, William Holdford, to cancer over the weekend. He is being buried today.
Marshall and Kenneth Lewis, a Chapel Hill lawyer, are the two Democrats who have announced candidacies.
The senatorial committee has evolved into the major banker of Senate campaigns and therefore plays a major role in recruiting candidates. The senatorial committee first tried to recruit Attorney General Roy Cooper and U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge before turning to Cunningham.
The Democrats are hoping for a repeat of the Kay Hagan experience. During the 2008 election cycle, Hagan, a Democratic state senator first explored a Senate bid, then announced she would not be a candidate, only to to be recruited back into the race by the senatorial committee. She eventually defeated Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole.
Update: Marshall consultant Thomas Mills told Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper that voters should take note of the fact that Cunningham seems very concerned about approval from Washington.
"It’s pretty tasteless to leak or announce you’re running on the day that Secretary Marshall’s dealing with her husband’s funeral," Marshall consultant Thomas Mills said. "But if he is running, this is all about D.C. money. He’s waited until he got the approval of D.C. power brokers — that’s not a very good indication of the type of Senator he would make."
Update: Cunningham issued a statement Tuesday saying, "This week our thoughts and prayers are with Secretary Marshall and we are not making any announcements of any kind."