RALEIGH – While the 2020 race for governor of North Carolina is all but assured to be a contest between incumbent Democrat Roy Cooper and current Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the players to compete for the open lieutenant governor spot (for which term limits prevent a Forest candidacy) has been less clear.
Well, some clarity has come in the form of Cal Cunningham, a former Democratic state senator who has informally announced his intentions to seek the seat.
Cunningham, originally from Lexington, is an attorney and served in the state Senate in the early 2000s. He also made an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run in 2010, losing to Elaine Marshall in the Democratic primary.
He currently acts as in-house counsel for WasteZero, a environmentally concerned consulting firm that seeks to “cut trash in half.” They contract with towns and municipalities to achieve, and Cunningham leverages his former political experience to help negotiate contracts. Right off the bat then, you can bet that Cunningham is a Democrat that identifies with the environmentalists in the Old North State. It would follow that he would favor more regulations in that regard, but the lieutenant governor doesn’t really have any power to affect those sort of things.
No, the lieutenant governor role in North Carolina is more or less ceremonial. Beyond presiding of the N.C. Senate during sessions, they don’t have much authority. It is what you make of it (Forest has focused on education), but it mostly serves as platform for elevating name I.D. so as to run for more significant office in the future.
So what kind of views would he be using the platform of lieutenant governor to promote, if he were to win?
In a 2010 interview with IndyWeek (a hard Left publication) during his run for U.S. Senate, Cunningham provided some interesting glimpses about his priorities.
“Long before the current economic collapse, our state was hurting because of tax breaks that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas, bad trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA that must be renegotiated and because of currency manipulation and unfair trade practices by China. A recent report showed that North Carolina has lost almost 100,000 jobs to China alone in the last decade.”
So is Cunningham a fan of Donald Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA? We’re guessing his political affiliation will have him adjusting his support of things. But his other answers fall more in line with backing up the kind of Big Government priorities of Roy Cooper, namely bumping up education spending (as if it directly correlates to better education).
He goes on to describe himself as a “pragmatic progressive,” which basically means he’s a committed Leftist. He boasts about endorsements of his 2010 campaign by the Teamsters and wants to be a champion of LGBT movements.
While Democrats now outwardly support government healthcare for all, Cunningham was on board nearly a decade ago, advocating for the government to rule the healthcare market during the main push for Obamacare.
“I was happy to see that state based exchanges were included, but if they do not do enough to contain costs we should create a public option [… ]”
He also argued for taxing the rich; adamantly supports abortion; and, wants Big Government to tackle ‘Climate Change.’
So, while lieutenant governor isn’t a role that would enable Cunningham to act on these issues, these answers tell us a lot about where his heart lies politically. As such, conservatives wouldn’t want him anyone near statewide office.