Burr calls for debates with his eventual opponent

By Ray Watters

Rocky Mount Telegram

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The U.S. Senate race for North Carolina is heating up, even though all the candidates haven't been decided yet.

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., accepted an invitation to a debate in October and challenged the winner of the Democratic primary to two more forums.

Now there just has to be a winner to the Democratic primary. None of the candidates attracted the 40 percent of votes needed Tuesday to avoid a runoff. So now N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former N.C. Sen. Cal Cunningham will go head-to head in the June 22 runoff. Marshall claimed 36 percent of the unofficials returns Tuesday night. Cunningham took 27 percent of the votes. In a distant third was Chapel Hill attorney Ken Lewis with 17 percent.

None of this stopped Cunningham from accepting Burr's debate offer, even though he might not make it that far in the race. In a show of confidence, Cunningham went further by called for even more debates.

"I look forward to debating Senator Burr and contrasting my comprehensive jobs plan with his record of voting for bad trade deals," Cunningham said in a press release. "My only complaint with the Senator's offer is that he just wants to debate three times."

Cunningham also took the opportunity to repeat his campaign digs against the sitting senator, claiming that Burr is out of touch with North Carolina families and "voting 18 times to ship North Carolina jobs overseas."

The October debate is being organized by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and WNCN-TV in Raleigh. Burr suggested two more debates in October, one held by UNC-TV and another by a to-be-determined media outlet in Western North Carolina.

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