Under the Dome

Kenneth Lewis

Office District Status
U.S. Senator U.S. Senate Candidate
Party In Office Since Term Ends
Level of Government  
Date of Birth Birthplace Now Lives In
October 8, 1961 Winston-Salem, NC Chapel Hill, NC


Kenneth Lewis may run for U.S. Senate in 2010. The Durham attorney has long been a fundraiser and organizer behind the scenes in North Carolina, working on the Senate campaigns of Harvey Gantt and Erskine Bowles. He helped lead finance operations for President Barack Obama in North Carolina in 2008. In early 2009, he announced he may seek the Democratic nomination to run against Sen. Richard Burr. Attorney General Roy Cooper is also expected to run. 


He is a fan of Duke basketball. 



Marital Status
Holly Ewell-Lewis
Daughter, Evan, son, Marshall, daughter, Maya

Kenneth Lewis is a Durham lawyer and a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010.

Early Life and Education

Kenneth Winstead Lewis was born Oct. 8, 1961, in Winston-Salem to Henry S. Lewis Jr. and Savannah Winstead Lewis. His father was a minister and college professor; his mother, a schoolteacher.

He graduated from East Forsyth Senior High School in 1979. He was a guard on the school basketball team.

He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Duke University in 1982.

He then went to Harvard Law School, earning a degree in 1986.

Professional Career

He clerked for a year on the N.C. Supreme Court for Justice Henry Frye in 1986-87.

He then went to work for Moore and Van Allen law firm in Charlotte, handling corporate and securities law.

In the summer of 1989, he married Holly Ewell, moved to Durham and transferred to the Raleigh office of Moore and Van Allen.

He was made a partner in the firm in 1993.

In 1994, he started a law firm, Burford & Lewis, in Raleigh. The practice included civil litigation, but Lewis' work focused on business law and public finance.

He represented a nonprofit developer of affordable housing, DHIC; an equity fund that invested in affordable housing, Community Affordable Housing Equity Corp.; and the Self-Help Ventures Fund, which makes small business loans in North Carolina.

In 2002, the firm moved to Durham.

In 2006, Lewis left the firm to join the Research Triangle Park office of Womble Carlyle, one of the state's largest white-shoe law firms. His old firm is now Robert Burford and Associates.

At Womble Carlyle, Lewis handles corporate and business law.

Political Career

When he was younger, Lewis used to tag along with his father, a volunteer on Gov. Jim Hunt's campaign in 1976. 

He volunteered for Harvey Gantt's re-election campaign as mayor of Charlotte, helping organize a neighborhood in the Third Ward.

He worked on Allyson Kay Duncan's campaign for the N.C. Court of Appeals.

He served as a fundraiser and organizer for Gantt's 1990 campaign for U.S. Senate.

At various times, he has volunteered and worked for Justice Frye, Gantt's 1996 campaign and Erskine Bowles' two campaigns for Senate.

He worked as a fundraiser for Barack Obama's 2004 Senate race and his 2008 presidential campaign.

At the beginning of 2009, he started to think about running against U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in 2010. He went public with his thoughts in early May.

Attorney General Roy Cooper was courted for the race, but chose not to run. Lewis, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Lexington lawyer Cal Cunningham were competing for the Democratic nomination.

Early poll numbers showed an interesting trend. Lewis had relatively low name recognition in the state, except in Charlotte where his name recognition was mostly negative. The likely reason is that poll respondents were confusing Lewis with former Bank of America chief Ken Lewis.

Research and reporting by Ryan Teague Beckwith. 


Business attorney
Womble Carlyle

Community Involvement:

Council for Entrepreneurial Development, Board Member

Center for Community Self-Help, Board Member

Planned Parenthood of the Capital and Coast, Board Member

Action for Children, Board Member

Children First, Board Member

General Baptist State Convention Foundation, Board Member

State of North Carolina Public Finance Advisory Committee, Member

Governor’s Efficiency Commission, Member

North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership, Fellow

Leadership Charlotte

Leadership Raleigh

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Life Member

Contact Info


Duke University
Graduated: 1982
juris doctorate
Harvard University
Graduated: 1986


Not specified.


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