Marshall says she can stand up to Burr
By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 23, 2010 1:46 PM
North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who is running for the Senate seat held by Richard Burr, speaks Monday night at Wilber's Barbecue.
Jobs and the economy will drive this year's U.S. Senate race, but before it gets that far Democrats will have to choose a candidate who is not only in marked contrast to incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr, but who can make the strongest showing against him, too.
N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who is running for the post, told a gathering of Democrats on Monday night that she is that person.
She spoke to the county Democratic Party's executive committee at Wilber's Barbecue.
"I have been in this room before. We have worked shoulder to shoulder on Democratic activities in the past. Now I ask for your help in this United States Senate race," Ms. Marshall said.
She said the contrast between her and Burr could not be more stark. Ms. Marshall said she began her career as a lawyer protecting families. Burr has shown he will vote against legislation that helps families, she said.
"Richard Burr, as recent as two years ago, voted against mammogram coverage," she said.
Ms. Marshall said she had helped establish a domestic violence shelter while Burr had voted to allow domestic violence to be a pre-existing condition to deny insurance coverage.
She said the country needs new leaders to help rebuild the economy, which she said should be Washington's top priority.
"We are in the worst recession that any of us have ever experienced," she said. "America is at war in two different places and the gap between the rich and the poor has only grown larger. We clearly need leadership. That is missing from the U.S. Senate."
Ms. Marshall said the country has enacted laws to protect the bottom line of certain industries.
"That is not leadership either. America voted for change in November of 2008 and the president has tried very hard to do that change. When Americans look at Washington, D.C., right now they see the politicians and the special interests standing in the way. They see politicians and they wonder what in the world has happened.
"A good example of all of that was basically the lead up to the (health care bill) vote that we had last night. During the summer of last year we had very loud and raucous debates that were paid for out of industry profits to look like they were ordinary town hall meetings, when in fact they were paid out of different companies."
Big corporations also footed the bill for advertising against the health care bill, she said.
"Missing is your voice and your voice and your voice -- the voice of the ordinary people of America, the working people. President (Franklin) Roosevelt spoke of the forgotten man and history appears to be repeating itself with the forgotten man and the forgotten woman who are the backbone of the country. You cannot change the United States Senate by sending the same people back."
She said that several years ago she said it was time to get serious about lobbying reform only to be told that was taking on the powerful special interest groups.
"I am here to tell you that we did," she said. "By the summer of 2005 we had a new lobbying law. I saw something and I did something about it. Today North Carolina has one of the strongest lobbying laws in the nation.
"I have taken on Wall Street. You may not realize that the secretary of state is the financial securities regulator of the state. Just in the past year and a half we have returned over $340 million to North Carolina investors based on fraudulent representation made to them."
She added, "I have taken on Wall Street. I have taken on Ponzi schemes and I have taken on just plain crooks. Sounds like that same crowd in Washington, doesn't it? It is time for change in the U.S. Senate. It is a tall order. I need your help.
"For those of you who say it can't be done, get out of the way of those who are doing it. I will remember where I came from. I will remember the people who sent me there."
"The arguments (against health care) are the same ones we heard when Social Security was going, when Medicare was getting started," Ms. Marshall said. "Medicare and Social Security have allowed seniors in this country to live with dignity. Social Security in particular is hugely a woman's issue since women tend to live longer. It has allowed them to live with dignity. It has allowed them to have the health care that they need. We had to get through all of the name calling in those times and we will have to get through the name calling this time."