01/26/10 — Cunningham seeks seat

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Cunningham seeks seat

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on January 26, 2010 1:46 PM

Cal Cunningham

Acknowledging that the Democrat Party might indeed be facing a bit of an uphill battle this November, prospective U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham nevertheless told Wayne County party members that he believes he is the man to defeat Republican Sen. Richard Burr.

"Times are tough for our people. Times are tough for our party," Cunningham said Monday night, speaking at Wilber's Barbecue. "But we can win and we will win because we are the party people turn to to solve our nation's problems. This fall it is our mission to replace Richard Burr in the U.S. Senate."

The problem, Cunningham said, is that "after 15 years in Washington (Burr was elected in 1994 to the House of Representatives and in 2004 to the Senate), can you name one thing that Richard Burr has done to make your life better? I can't."

"I'm always going to put North Carolina families first. He puts himself first," Cunningham said, referencing the now infamous incident in which Burr told his wife to withdraw money from their bank account at the height of the financial crisis.

But, Cunningham added, he is not running just to cast stones at Burr, he also has some concrete ideas he wants to see implemented in Washington.

"The defining issue in this campaign is going to be the efforts to get this economy moving again," he said.

Specifically, Cunningham said, he wants to help small businesses by implementing tax credits for those that create jobs, create a playing field for advanced manufacturing in North Carolina and the rest of the United States through the reformation of trade laws, investment in alternative energies and investment in education.

"Right now no one in Washington is focused front and center on creating jobs, and that's a mistake for both parties," he said.

Additionally, on the issue of health care, which no longer appears as though it will be resolved before the mid-term election, he wants to focus on controlling costs on both the insurance and provider levels, improve the quality of care, extend coverage to those currently without it, maintain Medicare and eliminate discrimination against pre-existing conditions.

Furthermore, he continued, he plans to do all of this while cutting spending.

A former member of the state Senate, Cunningham explained that he is used to abiding by a pay-as-you-go rule.

"Congress ought to live by similar principles," he said.

And to help it do so, he proposed not only eliminating all foreign federal contractors, but also enforcing rules requiring corporations to pay their capital gains taxes, measures that would either save or bring in a total of more than $500 billion in revenue.

But at the bottom line, the main difference that he sees between himself and Burr is his willingness to "roll up my sleeves" and try to solve some of the problems facing Congress today.

And as for the other candidates who are expected to run for the Democratic nomination for this seat, he said that it's going to be up to the voters to decide who best to challenge Burr, though he believes that to be him.

"When I've had the opportunity, I've made a difference," he said.

In addition to Cunning-ham's time in the state Senate, the Lexington native also served as a captain the U.S. Army Reserves, deploying as a military counselor in the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, as he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.

And if elected, he said, he would be the first veteran of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to serve in the U.S. Senate.