Cal Cunningham for North Carolina Senate
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 3/31/10
In the last 20 years North Carolina has had the churning experience of letting go of the old and finding itself again underneath; returning again to the place where it started, the Democratic Party. Something good happened when the urbane Harvard-educated lawyer and entrepreneur Mark Warner teaming up with the rustic Scotch-Irish warrior Jim Webb from the deep hills of western Virginia. This was a new and auspicious Democratic paradigm; and advanced management and excellence model with Southern characteristics.
It was Mudcat Saunder’s South; the old South, the new South, the same South coming into the republic and bringing with it heart and substance. It awakened in North Carolina when Kay Hagen clicked her ruby slippers and sent Elizabeth Dole back to Kansas in 2008. It advances again with Cal Cunningham’s run against Richard Burr for the Senate in North Carolina. Cunningham, a captain in the army reserves and an Iraq war veteran who won a Bronze Star for his efforts, brings authentic leadership to North Carolina. He has recently been endorsed by General Wesley Clark.
"Cal would be the first veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to serve in the U.S. Senate. He would bring a veteran's unique perspective to policymaking in Washington,” said Clark.
When we were rearing our kids on our little farm in Tobaccoville, NC, the venerable Jesse Helms was our Senator. He came from the ‘50s and refused to let go. Like one of those old Japanese soldiers from World War II who refused to surrender and were still coming out of the jungle decades after the war had ended. But the South had already let go decades before and had joined the world, even led the world, while Jesse was still holding fast to the past. And in a monumental shift in sensibility my Baptist, Democrat precinct which had voted Democrat for 120 years, suddenly made a tectonic shift and 85% followed Jesse to the Republican party in the early 1980s.
But Warner and Webb returned it. They, with General Clark and a few others, brought a new face to the Democrats and a new face to the South, “a Democratic Team with Management Values.” Wesley Clark brought a uniform sense of honor, dignity, intelligence and duty to the country in the oldest tradition of the South and to the Democratic party. Like Hagan, Cunningham fits in this new model which forms an auspiciously rising paradigm and one which returns North Carolina back to its Democratic roots.
During 2008, Cunningham served as a military prosecutor in the Multi-National Corps-Iraq. During his tour, he was government counsel in the first court-martial of a contractor under military law since 1968. In addition to the Bronze Star Medal, he received the General Douglas MacArthur Award for his leadership.
In November 2000, Cal was elected to the North Carolina State Senate, representing Davidson, Rowan and Iredell Counties. In the Senate, Cal worked on privacy legislation, campaign reform, the patient's bill of rights, the clean smokestacks bill, class size reductions, and preservation of farmland. He served as Vice Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and on the Senate's education committees. He has since served on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party.