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Tillis wins North Carolina Senate race

Tillis wins North Carolina Senate race

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.) on Wednesday was projected to have held back a challenge from Democrat Cal Cunningham, delivering a further blow to Democrats' hopes of flipping the Senate.

The Associated Press called the race at 5:05 p.m. EST. It came after Cunningham conceded to Tillis on Tuesday.

Tillis’s win is a major relief for Republicans, who feared that a defeat in North Carolina would help deliver control of the Senate to Democrats. 

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Democrats' hopes for gaining control of the upper chamber now rest with two runoff elections in Georgia, which will take place in January. 

The race in North Carolina emerged as the most expensive Senate contest in U.S. history, with total spending nearing the $300 million mark. 

Tillis, a first-term senator and former North Carolina state House Speaker, hitched himself closely to President TrumpDonald TrumpFranklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Man suspected in wife's disappearance accused of casting her ballot for Trump Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' MORE after previously breaking with the White House over the president’s use of a national emergency declaration to pay for his long-promised border wall.

Tillis walked back his opposition to Trump’s emergency declaration after that stance nearly drew him a primary challenge from the right.

Cunningham was among the Democrats’ top recruits of the 2020 cycle, fitting a profile that has proved invaluable for the party in recent years. A clean-cut former state senator and Iraq War veteran, Cunningham leaned heavily on his biography to win over voters in a purple state that Trump carried by fewer than 4 percentage points in 2016.

But the Senate race was upended in the final weeks of the campaign by a pair of bombshell revelations: Tillis was diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending an event at the White House and Cunningham admitted to exchanging romantic text messages with a woman who is not his wife.

Following the revelations of the affair, Cunningham repeatedly dodged questions about his extramarital activities, choosing to keep a low profile throughout the final weeks of the campaign. Tillis and Republicans, meanwhile, hammered him over the scandal, accusing him of undermining his own character-focused campaign message.