Campaign

Democratic challenger outraises Tillis in North Carolina Senate race

Cal for NC / flickr.com

North Carolina Democrat Cal Cunningham outraised Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in the first quarter of 2020 in the Tar Heel State’s closely watched Senate race.

Cunningham, an Army veteran and businessman, hauled in $4.4 million in the first three months of 2020, compared with about $2.1 million for Tillis. However, Cunningham’s bank account is less than half the size of Tillis’s — Cunningham has about $3 million cash on hand while Tillis boasts a $6.5 million balance.

“Outraising incumbent Senator Thom Tillis 2-to-1 makes it is clearer than ever that North Carolinians are sick of a weak, ineffective Senator who has put his political interests ahead of North Carolinians time and time again,” said Devan Barber, Cunningham’s campaign manager. “While Tillis spends his days kowtowing to [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and trying to get right with his base, Cal is speaking to voters everywhere and listening to their concerns.”

“And it’s clear based on these reports that Cal’s message is resonating,” Barber added.

Polling indicates a tight race between Cunningham and Tillis as the contest emerges as a bellwether of the battle for control of the Senate. 

The Tar Heel State, which is also a chief presidential battleground, has seen a massive influx of outside spending as both parties see Tillis’s seat as a linchpin of their plans to control the Senate.

The two leading Democratic and Republican super PACs focusing on Senate campaigns doled out a combined $47 million in the final two weeks of March alone into fall advertising reservations in North Carolina. 

“It’s going to be kind of the pivotal race to decide who has the majority in the Senate this fall,” one state Democratic official told The Hill earlier this month, adding that “if one party does well here, then it bodes well for how they’re doing nationally.”

While President Trump took North Carolina in 2016 over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Democrats are hopeful that changing demographics in the suburbs around Charlotte and Raleigh, fueled in part by a surge in Democratic-leaning professionals, will push them over the finish line up and down the ballot in November. 

Nevertheless, Tillis’s campaign expressed confidence that it could face down a challenge from Cunningham in such an expensive climate.

“Senator Tillis is no stranger to winning expensive races, and we are confident that his record of steady leadership and commonsense-conservative accomplishments will pave the way for him to do so again,” said Luke Blanchat, Tillis’s campaign manager.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the North Carolina race a “toss-up.”

Tags 2020 election Cal Cunningham Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Mitch McConnell North Carolina North Carolina Democratic Party North Carolina Democrats Thom Tillis Thom Tillis
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