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[Independent Tribune] Cunningham to speak to Senior Democrats Tuesday

Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Cal Cunningham will speak at the Tuesday, Jan. 8, meeting of the Cabarrus County Senior Democrats.

The Senior Democrats meet on the second Tuesday of every month between 6:30 and 8 p.m. at Troutman’s Restaurant on Church Street.

Cunningham is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served as a military prosecutor, holding government contractors accountable and prosecuting sexual assault cases. In addition to a Juris Doctor from UNC Law, Cal’s education includes a Master of Science from the London School of Economics. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree with Honors from UNC-Chapel Hill.

His wife Elizabeth works in the field of education policy and law, and they have two high school-aged kids, Caroline and Will.

Cunningham was endorsed by the NC Association of Educators, Sierra Club, VoteVets and other major Democratic Party constituencies. He helps lead a nationally-recognized environmental services and waste reduction company based in Raleigh, where he has worked to reduce carbon and energy impacts on our environment. During his tenure the company has expanded to 120 jobs, all covered by health insurance, in part thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

In 2017, Governor Roy Cooper named Cunningham as Vice Chair of the Governor’s Crime Commission where he has been leading efforts to curb the opioid addiction crisis and fund services for women and families affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.

As a native of Lexington, he is uniquely positioned to bridge North Carolina’s rural-urban divide. He’ll be a next-generation leader who brings North Carolinians together over the most pressing challenges of our time. In November 2000, at the age of 27, Cal was elected one of North Carolina’s youngest State Senators, representing a district in Davidson, Rowan and Iredell Counties.

In the Senate, he served as Vice Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and on the Senate’s three education committees. He fought for smaller class sizes, higher teacher pay, university and community college funding and the founding of what is now “NC Pre-K”. Since then, more than 350,000 four-year-old children have received high quality early education to enhance their readiness to succeed in school. In the Senate, Cal was also a leading advocate for landmark clean air legislation and land preservation.

Since leaving the Senate, Cunningham served for twelve years as a Governor’s appointee to the Board of Trustees of the Davidson County Community College, focusing on affordability, degree completion and job training.

He also founded and chaired the Exploris School Foundation that supports an award-winning “Green Ribbon School” of the same name, where his two children attended middle school. For his service overseas, Cal was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the prestigious General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.

He accepted a post-9/11 commission from the U.S Army Reserve and has volunteered to mobilize three times. He deployed to Afghanistan with a Special Operations Task Force from Fort Bragg to help train Afghan security. He deployed to Iraq with XVIII Airborne Corps and served at the Multi-National Corps headquarters. And, he worked for a year as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, prosecuting criminal misconduct on Fort Bragg. Currently, he helps train special operations forces on the law of armed conflict and military justice and has been selected for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. Cal is also a paratrooper.

The 2020 race

The race for Lieutenant Governor is an “open” race; the incumbent, Republican Dan Forrest is term-limited and must vacate the office at the end of 2020. Forrest has indicated his intent to challenge Roy Cooper, who is expected to run for a second term as Governor.

The 2020 primary election will be held early – March 3, 2020, on the same day that North Carolina voters select nominees for President, US Senate, US Congress, legislative and other council of state offices. Early vote will open in or around mid-February, 2020 and filing for office will open December 2, 2019.

Democrats say they are expecting primary turn-out is expected to be very high – around the 2008 levels of 1.6 million voters; crowded primaries will require significant paid media engagement with voters.

The General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 – it is expected that Roy Cooper will be the nominee for Governor and run a strong and coordinated re-election campaign. It is expected NC will be a target for Presidential contenders and that turn-out will be at or around 4.6 million voters.