Cal Cunningham Concedes In North Carolina U.S. Senate Race To Thom Tillis

The Latest (11/10/20):

North Carolina Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham conceded to Republican incumbent Thom Tillis Tuesday stating that, “the voters have spoken.”

Cunningham posted a statement to Twitter stating that he called Tillis to congratulate him on his reelection after North Carolina voters made a decision to re-elect Tillis.

Tillis led Cunningham by more than 95,000 votes. That margin is over 1.5 percentage points.

The race was considered too early to call Tuesday with votes still being counted across the state.

“Earlier this afternoon, Cal Cunningham called me to offer his concession. This was a hard-fought campaign and I wish nothing but the best to Cal and his family going forward,” Tillis said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Tillis has held his position in the Senate for more than six years and has pledged to continue keeping his promises to North Carolinians.

“I know that my job is fighting for the jobs of the hardworking people of our state, which is why my first post-election priority will be defeating COVID-19 and getting the economy back on track. North Carolinians have a solid record of weathering storms and coming back stronger than ever. I am confident that we all can come together and meet this moment and am ready to get to work,” Tillis said.

Cunningham’s full statement regarding the election results:

“I just called Senator Tillis to congratulate him on winning re-election to a second term in the U.S. Senate and wished him and his family the best in their continued service in the months and years ahead.

“The voters have spoken and I respect their decision. While the results of this election suggest there remain deep political divisions in our state and nation, the more complete story of our country lies in what unites us: our faith and sense of confidence in our democracy, our civic values and common humanity, our shared aspiration to care for one another, and our belief that we live in a country that does exceptional things.

“I’ll always be proud of the work we did together to lift up the voices of North Carolinians who feel left behind by our politics. I want to thank my entire campaign team for their hard work, the countless volunteers and supporters who joined our effort, the North Carolinians who turned out to vote in record numbers to participate in our great democracy, and the election officials who worked in the face of a dangerous pandemic to administer this free and fair election.”

“The end of this campaign does not mark the end of our need to improve access to health care, strengthen education, heal racial wounds, and create better jobs. These are causes that still must be championed. Though this isn’t the electoral outcome we worked for, I’ll always be grateful to be a North Carolinian, and I’ll always believe that our country’s best days are ahead.”

Original Story (11/4/20):

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham was too early to call Wednesday, with many votes yet to be counted.

Tillis, a first-term senator, led Cunningham by nearly 97,000 votes from among more than 5.4 million votes counted through early Wednesday, according to unofficial results. There were still up to 117,000 outstanding mail-in absentee ballots and an unknown number of provisional ballots cast.

Although The Associated Press hasn’t declared a winner in the race, Tillis played the role of victor on Tuesday night to supporters gathered north of Charlotte.

“What we accomplished tonight was a stunning victory and we did it against all the odds,” he said to a cheering crowd. Cunningham has not personally addressed the results so far, but campaign manager Devan Barber said in an emailed statement Wednesday: “The State Board of Elections is continuing to count ballots, and we plan to allow that process to be carried out, so every voter can have their voice heard.”

Tillis had faced a tough partisan battle with Cunningham, an attorney and military reservist recruited heavily for the race by national Democrats.

The race in the presidential battleground was already being closely watched before word of Cunningham’s extramarital admission and Tillis’ coronavirus diagnosis upended the contest in early October. It was the most expensive Senate race ever, with $282 million spent by the two campaigns and outside groups in the general election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It attracted enormous amounts of outside money because of its impact on which party controls the Senate.

Cunningham’s campaign authenticated sexually suggestive text messages — initially reported on by a conservative website — between him and a woman who was not his wife. Days later, the woman confirmed other texts about the relationship and told The Associated Press she had an intimate encounter with Cunningham as recently as July.

Cunningham said repeatedly that he had “taken responsibility for the hurt that I’ve caused in my personal life” but failed to respond to questions about whether he had been involved in any other extramarital affairs. The U.S. Army Reserve also announced it was investigating Cunningham, a lieutenant colonel, but didn’t give specifics.

Cunningham, 47, said the race wasn’t about his personal life, but rather issues such as health care and COVID-19 relief that he said Tillis had failed to address adequately while in the Senate. Democratic allies came to Cunningham’s defense in the days after the affair surfaced and reinforced their support for his candidacy.

Tillis, a former IBM consultant, tested positive for the coronavirus several days after attending the Sept. 26 White House event announcing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Unlike most people at the event, Tillis wore a face mask, but he took it off once indoors. Many attendees — including Trump — later tested positive for COVID-19.

Tillis, 60, campaigned on a record of passing Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, confirming scores of conservative judges and helping the country recover from the pandemic. But Cunningham noted that Tillis had voted to do away with President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law and couldn’t be trusted to protect working families.