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Tillis wins North Carolina Senate primary

Tillis wins North Carolina Senate primary
© Greg Nash

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE (R-N.C.) won his party's primary to retain his Senate seat on Tuesday, defeating several GOP challengers.

The Associated Press called the GOP race for Tillis shortly before 8:30 p.m. 

He is set to face former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D), who prevailed over three other Democrats who were running for the party's nomination in the North Carolina Senate primary. 

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Tillis himself faced challenges from three fellow Republicans for his seat, including Lake Norman Conservatives Co-Chairwoman Sharon Hudson, former Judge Paul Wright, and businessman Larry Holmquist.

His Republican competitors argued that Tillis's unpopularity in the state would lead to the seat falling back into Democratic hands in November, a factor they asserted was linked to insufficient support for President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE.

Tillis now heads to his first official reelection battle in November, where the one-term senator will face a Democratic challenger in a state expected to be a battleground in the fall. His seat is rated "leans Republican" by The Cook Political Report.

He first won election to the Senate in 2014, defeating incumbent Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganBiden's gun control push poses danger for midterms The two women who could 'cancel' Trump 10 under-the-radar races to watch in November MORE (D-N.C.) for her seat by less than 100,000 votes.

In a statement released on Twitter, Tillis thanked GOP voters in the state while aiming a sharp line of attacks at former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D), his Democratic opponent in the fall.

"I am honored to have earned the Republican nomination tonight, and pledge to work as hard as I can to hold this seat and get President Trump re-elected so that we can continue to partner on wins for North Carolinians of all backgrounds and political affiliations," Tillis said.
 
"This race will present a clear contrast between me and my opponent, Cal Cunningham," he continued, adding: "Now that Mr. Cunningham has vowed to support whoever wins the Democratic nomination for President, this race will certainly be a referendum on the free market policies that made this country great, and the radical liberal agenda of higher taxes and more government control being advocated for by the national Democratic party."