Under the Dome

Cunningham won't run for U.S. Senate

Cal Cunningham, a Lexington Democrat who had been exploring a U.S. Senate bid for months, said late Monday that he will not run.

The decision is a possible indicator the U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Richard Burr in 2010. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Durham lawyer Kenneth Lewis have already announced they are in the primary.

In a post sent to a Facebook group organized to help build support for a potential campaign, a message from Cunningham, a lawyer and former member of the N.C. Senate, said it would be the wrong race at the wrong time for his family.

Dear Friends,

After giving a serious and thorough look at a race for the U.S. Senate, I have decided not to seek office at this time.

This has been a very difficult decision, but I’m sure there will be another day and there are many other ways to serve. I am deeply committed to public service and have a passion for working on the serious issues facing our State and country.

A campaign for the Senate is about winning and working to be a part of the answer. As a candidate, I have to look supporters in the eye and show them how we win — and what we do when we get there.

After a very careful look, I’ve concluded that this is the wrong race at the wrong time for me and my family.


I also owe it to my family — before committing us to a hard year — to be a husband and father first. My family’s willingness to support me in a Senate race is an expression of their love. This decision to put time with them first is an expression of mine.

Here on the eve of Veteran’s Day, I am reminded of the over 900 days our family has been separated because of active military service in the last few years. Today, I choose to be home.

This has been a very, very difficult decision, in part because of my commitment to service, but also because of the many folks who have offered encouragement, help, time, enthusiasm, unsolicited contributions (which were returned), counsel, prodding, restraint and a willingness to suspend their own lives over the last few months.

These include the friend who started this whole thing by posting the idea on a Public Policy Polling blog this Spring and the Facebook crew who ignited the grassroots and broadcast messages, images and video far and wide and the many active members of the Democratic Party, who have asked tough questions, offered sincere support and believe in the principles that make our country strong.

I am humbled and very much in your debt. I am also grateful to some extraordinary professionals and devoted friends who have provided guidance and assistance as I tested the waters, who helped cobble together a financial plan and team that would make the race winnable, and who care greatly about the future of our country.

Thanks, too, to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for their professionalism, encouragement and guidance on putting together a campaign team of the best.

Their partnership is an essential ingredient in winning Senate campaigns.

Finally, there are a special few – from family to friends to law firm colleagues – who exercised incredible patience as we gave this race the close attention that it deserves.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. To all, I am very grateful. To all, I am confident that our best days as a country are truly ahead.


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