Recently I blogged that, if Elaine Marshall gets in the Senate race, her candidacy should give pause to Ken Lewis and Cal Cunningham.
The reverse is also true.
Yes, Lewis and Cunningham are both unproven unknowns. But don’t overestimate how well known Marshall is. Or Richard Burr, for that matter.
In recent weeks, I had a chance to meet and eat (separately, of course) with Lewis and Cunningham.
Both are impressive men. Both have good stories to tell. Both are the kind of energetic, idealistic young candidates that either political party would want to have.
Lewis, who is African-American, worked hard for President Obama last year. He has a foot in both the black church/political world and the corporate world. Cunningham served one term in the legislature and volunteered to serve as an Army lawyer in Iraq. Both are corporate attorneys. Both have some good early support.
Lewis struck me as having a better grasp on his message now. Also, he seemed more set on running – period – whereas Cunningham seemed to be angling for the DSCC’s anointment.
Here’s another of the Lessons I Learned From Jim Hunt: All six times he ran for statewide office (five wins, one loss) Hunt never dilly-dallied about whether to run. Not for him the ego dance of maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won’t. When he did that dance (1986 and 1990), he was delaying the announcement he would not run.
No, when Hunt ran, he ran – hard. From day one. Anybody else thinking about running knew that they would have to go through him.
We’re now in the campaign-before-the-campaign. Lewis may force Cunningham – and Marshall, too – to decide early whether they want to fight hard for the nomination or hold back in hopes the DSCC will clear the field for one of them.
I wouldn’t advise them to wait too long.