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Cunningham sets Senate fundraising record in North Carolina in challenge to Tillis

Cunningham sets Senate fundraising record in North Carolina in challenge to Tillis
© Cal for NC / flickr.com

Democrat Cal Cunningham pulled in more than $7 million in the second quarter of 2020 for his bid to unseat Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (R), setting a record for the most raised in a three-month period by a Senate candidate in North Carolina. 

Cunningham’s campaign announced that it raised $7.4 million between April 1 and June 30 and ended the quarter with $6.6 million in cash on hand. Since launching his Senate bid in June 2019, Cunningham has raised nearly $15.5 million, his campaign said. 

The $7.4 million fundraising haul is far and away his best so far. In the first quarter of 2020, he raised just shy of $4.4 million.

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The previous quarterly Senate fundraising record in North Carolina was set by former Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan10 under-the-radar races to watch in November The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate MORE (D), who raised $4.8 million in the third quarter of her 2014 reelection bid before she lost to Tillis.

Tillis has not yet announced his second-quarter fundraising total, and financial reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until July 15. 

But Cunningham has so far held a consistent lead over Tillis in fundraising this year, pulling in more than twice what the GOP incumbent raised in the first quarter of 2020. 

Still, Tillis has routinely carried more cash on hand than Cunningham. His first-quarter financial filings showed him with nearly $6.5 million in the bank to roughly $3 million that Cunningham reported at the time. 

Democrats see Tillis’s seat in North Carolina as crucial to their bid to capture the Senate majority in November. They need to pick up either three or four seats, depending on which party wins control of the White House, to win control of the chamber. 

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But one of their incumbents, Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.), is in serious danger of losing his reelection, meaning that Democrats will likely have to capture at least four seats this year.

The North Carolina Senate race is expected to be particularly expensive. Both Cunningham and Tillis have already gone on the air with general election television ads, and outside groups have poured millions into the state in anticipation of a brutal fall campaign season. 

Recent polls show Cunningham with a narrow lead over Tillis. Surveys conducted last month by Siena College, Fox News and the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling showed Cunningham ahead by single digits, while an East Carolina University poll released last week showed a tie.