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N.C. secretary of state drops in

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Elaine Marshall visited the Rowan County Democratic Headquarters Thursday afternoon and immediately put herself to work.
The event that Marshall, the N.C. secretary of state, attended was an open house for members of the local Democratic party. Wine and cheese were served.
Marshall added cookies to the mix.
“They were given to me,” she said after emptying a box of Girl Scout cookies, placing them on a plate where they were flanked by grapes and cheese.
“If I take them home, they’ll go stale or I’ll eat them,” Marshall continued. “My objective is to give them all away. Please, have one.”
Marshall has served as secretary of state since 1996 when she surprised racing legend Richard Petty for the post. She was the first female elected to statewide executive office in North Carolina.
Marshall was re-elected in 2000 and 2004, and is seeking a return to office this year. She’s being challenged by Republican Jack Sawyer and polls indicate she enjoys a comfortable lead.
Marshall also spoke to local Democrats during their monthly meeting later Thursday evening.
Marshall said she wasn’t taking her own re-election for granted, but admitted that these are heady times for Democrats both in North Carolina and nationwide as the presidential bid of Barack Obama has generated a wave of interest among voters not seen in a long while.
“What is the feel of things?” Marshall asked Genoal Russell, chairman of the Rowan County Democrats. “How is early voting going?”
Marshall said Thursday was a relatively easy day for her as she made stops in only Statesville and Salisbury. She said that last week, she made campaign stops in four eastern counties in a single day.”Those are nights when I don’t have any trouble sleeping,” Marshall said.
Then she paused to glance around at the gathering at the local Democratic Party headquarters.
“I’m getting too old,” Marshall, 63, said of making multiple campaign stops in a single day.
Then she chuckled and continued.
“But they’re fun, they’re fun.”
Russell, the local Democratic Party chairman, said she enjoyed meeting politicians like Marshall when they make their stops in Salisbury.
Russell agreed with Marshall that these are glowing days for Democrats, with interest in the upcoming election running high.
“It’s difficult to get young people excited about politics and Obama has managed to do that,” she said.
Bob Freeman, chairman of the Rowan County Senior Democrats, also attended Thursday’s gathering at the Democratic headquarters. He said he wanted the opportunity to speak to Marshall.
“I’ve met her before,” Freeman said. “I wasn’t sure if she’d remember me, but she said she did.”
Freeman said he got involved in partisan politics 16 years ago when he retired as a preacher. He said before that, he felt obligated to keep his political views largely to himself.
“It’s not just a Democratic issue as far as I’m concerned,” Freeman said of the upcoming elections. “It’s an issue of getting our nation back on track.”
Freeman said he enjoyed politics, but didn’t enjoy the political mudslinging that is often involved.
“That’s not the way Jesus said to do it,” he said. “He said to love one another.”

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