Next year's race for U.S. Senate helped turn Asheville into a preview of the Democratic primary next year, as three candidates for the job were in town to mingle.
Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, lawyer Kenneth Lewis and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall were in town for the Vance-Aycock dinner, an annual gathering of Democratic faithful, which this year sold 500 tickets for a $100, a plate dinner, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
Lewis and Marshall have filed the necessary paperwork to run. Cunningham is exploring a race. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, is running to keep his seat and Democrats believe they have a chance at beating him.
The Asheville Citizen-Times caught up with Cunningham, Lewis and Marshall and they attempted outshine each other.
[Marshall] said that jobs were her top priority and the government could help secure employment for more Americans by negotiating with and possibly penalizing countries that have poor safety and environmental rules.
"We can’t have our industries hurt because they are at a competitive disadvantage with workers on machines that don’t have any protective gear and their environment is being trashed in the process of manufacturing," she said.
Lewis, who listed increasing Americans access to education and affordable housing as his top priorities, told the paper that he supported a cap-and-trade system meant to curb carbon etmissions.
"It uses private markets which I like but it also places a cost on carbon emissions that will provide an incentive to reduce emissions and for utility companies to look for alternative energy sources,” he said.
Cunningham said he supported a Senate bill on cap-and-trade so much that he went to Washington to meet with its sponsor, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.