On their first televised debate, North Carolina Democratic candidate for Senate, Elaine Marshall, blasted Republican Richard Burr and urged voters to throw him out of office. Burr smiled, stumbled and even supported new regulations on business as he reeled under the barrage of Marshall's pointed attacks. This race just got much more interesting, because Burr had been cruising to what he and his backers believe will be an easy victory against a weak and under-financed opponent.
One of the biggest differences between the two political opponents is the wealth of their campaign coffers. Marshall has raised only a miniscule amount during her grassroots campaign, while Burr's campaign treasury boasts a bloated bank account with a towering mountain of money from corporate political action committees, lobbyists and rich conservative backers from all parts of the USA.
While Burr has served in Congress since 1994 ascending the staircase to the Senate in 2004, Marshall is the Secretary of State. Burr did not have credible primary opposition, while Marshall faced a strong challenge from Cal Cunningham. After the primary, Cunningham has taken a leading role in Marshall's campaign as Director of the Coordinated Campaign in North Carolina.
Due to her lack of funds, Marshall's campaign has been focused on the grassroots peoples' campaign building contacts across the state via coffees, canvassing and telephone banks. With his advantage of massive amounts of Republican money, Burr has been blasting Marshall for the past six weeks with an insipid TV spot featuring two "folksy" old white men sitting in rocking chairs on a front porch -- a classic of fake down home style that attempts to echo "Andy of Mayberry."
While Burr has been leading Marshall in the polls, his numbers are weak with lower than 50% approving his job performance in spite of his massive TV presence.
Earlier today, Marshall launched her first TV spot -- a searing frontal attack on Burr urging voters to throw him out of office for his part in the darkest and most dire disasters of the Bush administration. Marshall is right. Burr was one of Bush's go-to-guys in the Senate always eager to vote for neoconservative follies from deficits to tax-cuts for billionaires.
From a very lackluster campaign with two relatively weak candidates, this race has just been transformed by Marshall's stunning performance in their TV debate.
Marshall went on the attack in her opening statement and did not let up for the entire hour. Marshall's attack on Burr in the TV debate coincides perfectly with her paid TV attack campaign. With soft numbers in this race, it is clear that Marshall will now be clawing back Burr's 8 point lead -- and we could see a photo-finish -- or even an upset.