Wrap of Durham for Obama's U.S. Senatorial candidate forum

On Monday evening, Durham for Obama held its candidate forum (along with an endorsement straw poll), featuring these Democratic Senatorial Candidates from North Carolina: Lexington native and former State Senator and Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, Cal Cunningham, Durham Attorney Ken Lewis, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Lumberton attorney Marcus W. Williams.

The primary winner will face incumbent Richard "Bank Run" Burr in the fall.

10:32 PM ET: I just received the straw poll results from Durham for Obama's Faulkner Fox:

Ken Lewis 57.67%
Elaine Marshall 32.42%
Cal Cunningham 8.25%
Marcus Williams 1.65%
The caveat: there will not be an official endorsement from DFO because it had set the bar for endorsement at 70%.

On Monday evening, Durham for Obama held its candidate forum (along with an endorsement straw poll), featuring these Democratic Senatorial Candidates from North Carolina: Lexington native and former State Senator and Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, Cal Cunningham, Durham Attorney Ken Lewis, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Lumberton attorney Marcus W. Williams.

The primary winner will face incumbent Richard "Bank Run" Burr in the fall.

The event took place in Durham at St. Joseph's AME Church, and the turnout was good. Immediately following the Candidate Forum, there was Endorsement voting, and the results will be posted on the Obama for Durham website as soon as the ballots are counted are in, as you saw above.

I Tweeted the forum and shot video and took photos. Here are the candidates' opening statements:

Below is the raw video of the forum once questions began.

You can see the raw tweets posted below the fold. [They are also at hashtag #phbsennc @pamshouseblend.]

During the event there were no questions about LGBT issues; the candidates filled out a questionnaire in advance of this forum and that including responses on our issues (http://ow.ly/1lfCT). Rather than go into details about the candidates and their backgrounds here, click over to read my intro post about them.

Observations: Elaine Marshall high tailed it out of there very quickly; I only had a couple-second encounter as she was heading up the aisle toward the door and she recognized me and said "there's my Facebook friend." Sigh. Note: Mike Nellis, who works with the Marshall campaign, said in the comments that we'll get her on the schedule to do a liveblog on the Blend.

I did speak with both Cunningham and Lewis at greater length and they gave a personal thumbs up to participate in a live blog at the Blend (on any issues; but there will be mostly LGBT ones at my pad), so I'll set that up pronto. The major point to note is that we have a slew of pro-LGBT candidates from the state of NC willing to discuss our issues openly and commit to answers in a live blog. How many Southern state candidates for the U.S. Senate would you expect that from?

It's high time, because the wingnuts here are a dying breed. Speaking of which, I'll have a post up at my pad about some NC state pols who are the poster children for good old boy bigots that need to be retired from office -- State Sen James Forrester, State Rep. Bill Current, and our friend Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James. You won't believe it. Nah, yes you will.

Raw tweets below the fold.

Opening statements
cal up first. defining issue will be jobs and the economy.

talked about service in iraq and mentioned corruption and sexual assault.

lewis up talking about effect of obama's election on daughters.

US is fundamentally broken. today's senate doesn't serve the people.

marshall: thanked us for change .. but we haven't seen it...no leadership. She's quite feisty.

She asks people to look at what she's done as sec of state in NC

Marcus Williams is up. The last time he ran "he was not given time to speak." This was during 2008 when Obama was in Raleigh w/Clinton.

"I am best prepare to unite the party" as a public interest atty. He says he has the most experience on the issues.

Question time begins.

First question is about the economy and job creation. #phbsennc

Lewis: We have to act decisively right now to stimulate jobs. I have been a business owner and know that tax credits can make diff.

1.4 and 2.8 million jobs will be created under his plan. He wants to hire more schoolteachers -- kids shouldn't suffer.

calls for roads and bridge construction projects. Wants to invest in clean technology. #phbsennc

Marshall on the economy: "I am the only one that has served in the legislative nd exec branches. Fed needs to assist states. #phbsennc

Also calls for green and high tech innovations to be funded. She wants to pay this through closing tax loopholes.

Williams on economy: $12 billion debt - proposes bringing high tech companies to NC. Obama should allocate funds for small biz. #phbsennc

Williams; Allow access to low-interest loans. He helped start a business incubator in Wilmington #phbsennc

Cunningham on economy: invest in people. short medium and long term ways should be used to help small biz. Regulartory reform. #phbsennc

Cunningham; no more 'too big to fail. fix trade imbalance w/ China. R&D tax credit to connect manf. sector to high tech #phbsennc

Second question on DC gridlock how to break it. How to make it more effective body. #phbsennc

Marshall on gridlock; filibuster has been abused, the rules of the senate must be changed. reconciliation has been overused by GOP #phbsennc

Need to talk about the hypocrisy of GOP using the same tools they slam dems for using.

Williams on gridlock: Said you need to work with commonalities of interests and bring in thoughts from outside the beltway. #phbsennc

Williams: we've worked on everything from zoning to employment to medicare and you have to be well versed in regulatory systems #phbsennc

Cunningham on gridlock: bring in the cots and actually debate the issues and deliver the arguments all night. #phbsennc

Richard Burr is the poster child for lobbyist influence. We need reform and believe that answering voters questions is key. #phbsennc

Lewis on gridlock: The senate rules are the symptoms of a larger problem. It's not about parties it's about the people. #phbsennc

Lewis: we shouldn't substitute party loyalty for serving the people. We have to bring real change, for the interests of the people.#phbsennc

Lewis: I have been part of blue collar communities, corporate law firms. I understand the public interest #phbsennc

Question on foreign policy. What role should the U.S. play abroad?

Williams on foreign policy. we have to acknowledge that we are a debtor nation, but we must lead on safety and environment. #phbsennc

We must conduct ourselves along with the rule of law & be consistent in our decisionmaking.Gives kudos to Obama for restoring rep. #phbsennc

Cunningham on foreign policy: set a higher standard. We have an exceptional nation and must live up to our values. #phbsennc

All of our institutions must remain consistent with our values, we need to be a commerce center and engage and invest #phbsennc

Lewis: We can't jail or kill all our enemies, so we need to stay engaged with the world and engage and trade with the world #phbsennc

Marshall on fp: Keep our eye on the ball. we are a target for a lot of unsavory folks. We need to make decisions on valid info. #phbsennc

We need to develop more allies, strong allies so that we do not feel a need to act unilaterally. #phbsennc

We need to have fair trade and the agreements are honored and that our workers have a fair chance. Stop currency manipulation #phbsennc

Next Q: Health care reform. What should be the goals of any health care change? #phbsennc

Cunningham: Pass health care reform NOW. Eliminate the tax of the uninsured. Eliminate pre-existing cond. discrimination. #phbsennc

We have to deal with the challenge of costs, & there should be a public option. A health care bill needs to have meaningful change #phbsennc

Lewis is also for a public option. He has experience dealing as a small business man w/health care costs and policies #phbsennc

Lewis: end abuses of health ins companies. There is NO competition no matter what anyone says. #phbsennc

Lewis: We have to get control of costs. Now is the time - we have to get hold of this now. #phbsennc

Marshall: It's a sad commentary that in america that most bankruptcies are due to health care catastrophes. For a public option. #phbsennc

Marshall: It needs to be affordable and have independent oversight. everyone must be covered. #phbsennc

Marshall: Must eliminate gender disparity in costs - Burr considers domestic abuse a pre-existing condition. #phbsennc

Williams: Imperative to address this issue, for the humanity of the issue as well as cost control. How can we pull this off. #phbsennc

Williams: bipolar disorder or autism and other pre-existing conditions cannot be used to reject for coverage. #phbsennc

Williams: should be able to cover kids up to 26 years old. #phbsennc

Next question - ethics: SCOTUS ruling on corp spending on ads - how do you feel about this. #phbsennc

Lewis: Citizens United ruling is the worst in my lifetime. We don't need more corporate involvement. We must seek disclosure. #phbsennc

Lewis; The only sure way to fix this is through appointments to SCOTUS. #phbsennc

Marshall: We have real activist judges on the court. Corporations should not be able to influence your vote with cash. #phbsennc

Williams: The jury is still out on that SCOTUS ruling. He believes that we can in the Senate, prevent foreign corps from adverts. #phbsennc

Cunningham: Citizens United was a terrible decision and we need to change via SCOTUS appts. Transparency for corps that advertise #phbsennc

Cunningham believes that people showing up at forums like this will put pressure to change laws in Congress. #phbsennc

Another Q on economy: do you think it's more important to get debt reduced or improve econ.

Marshall: our deficit came from the tax breaks for elite, and two foreign wars under Bush. Need to invest first then work on def. #phbsennc

Williams: You can do both at once. Target smart: lure corporations back into U.S. , stimulate small business. Develop workforce. #phbsennc

Cunningham: Burr voted for every portion of the debt we are saddled with. We need to get people back to work to pay into system #phbsennc

The amount of money used to hire foreign contractors could hire americans. We must pay as we go. Eliminate loopholes for corps #phbsennc

Lewis; We have to fight deficits. We need to end stranglehold of this recession and get people back to work #phbsennc

TARP money needs to be used to put people to work -- some of that money has been paid back. #phbsennc

The future of our economy is a bottom up economy from the working people creating prosperity by giving them more opportunities. #phbsennc

Q on education: talk about No Child Left Behind. #phbsennc

Williams: Education is the hallmark of success. Obama has eliminated 2014 proficiency requirement. #phbsennc

We need to close underperforming schools and stop the teaching to the test instead of cognitive development #phbsennc

Cunningham; Fundamental importance of feds supporting education in the country, work on early pre-school intervention. #phbsennc

We have to make sure feds use resources to keep teachers on the job (reduce attrition), make sure all broadband connected. #phbsennc

Lewis: The future belongs to the country that best educates its children. The problems need to be addressed at every level. #phbsennc

We need to ensure that early childhood brain development is studied so parents are aware of how to help children succeed. #phbsennc

NCLB: there were good and bad things happened in durham schools. Moved away from real education and pushed test taking #phbsennc

College must be more affordable. we need to invest in the common interest we all have in education. #phbsennc

Marshall: every success she had came from public sector system, and she taught in the community college system. #phbsennc

Marshall: teachers are not paid enough for the hard work they have to do. An inspired teacher makes all the difference. #phbsennc

We have to professionalize teachers so they don't desert teaching at the five year mark. Make sure they can be paired w/mentors #phbsennc

Closing statements. (DFO neglected to ask a civil rights question in this forum). #phbsennc

Cunningham mentioned Terry Sanford (former Sen) and the greatness of moving civil rights forward and making NC citizens proud. #phbsennc

His daughter touched the hand of his 100 year old grandmother, a former slave. #phbsennc

Lewis: We must beat Richard Burr, but that is a bar set way too low. When Lewis mentioned working together, he specifically included "straight and gay" (1:03) #phbsennc

There was a lot of clapping then, BTW. #phbsennc

Marshall: she mentioned her experience as Sec. of State in battling wall street banks and doing lobbying reform in NC. #phbsennc

NC:the toughest lobbying laws in the country.For those who say reform is too hard. get out of the way and let someone else do it. #phbsennc

That's a wrap. #phbsennc

I will have video later. #phbsennc

* NC U.S. Senator Richard Burr has got to go - here are 8 reasons why



Under my Daily KOS pseudoname "Independantman".

the first to sign up for a PHB liveblog is...

...Ken Lewis.

After last night's forum, all three campaigns expressed strong interest in participating in a liveblog on the Blend to discuss LGBT issues (though not exclusively). The Lewis camp contacted me are we're good to go on 4/1 at 8PM ET -- no April Fool's. :)

Hope BlueNC folks can join us.

Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend

Best line of the night

is between 63 to 64 minutes in, and it belong to Ken Lewis.