Cunningham concedes US Senate race to Tillis

Posted November 10, 2020 3:19 p.m. EST
Updated November 10, 2020 4:04 p.m. EST

— A week after Election Day, Democrat Cal Cunningham on Tuesday conceded the race for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis.

"The voters have spoken, and I respect their decision," Cunningham said in a statement.

Tillis leads the race by more than 95,000 votes. County elections boards won't certify their results until Friday, but with a dwindling number of absentee and provisional ballots left to count, it became more apparent by the day that Cunningham couldn't catch up.

"I am incredibly humbled by the chance to serve the people of North Carolina in the United States Senate for six more years, and I pledge to continue keeping my promises and delivering results," Tillis said in a statement. "I know that my job is fighting for the jobs of the hard-working people of our state, which is why my first post-election priority will be defeating COVID-19 and getting the economy back on track."

Tillis declared victory last Tuesday night, claiming a second term that, for now, preserves a Republican majority in the Senate. Democrats would have to win both runoff elections in Georgia in January to achieve a 50-50 split in the Senate and gain the upper hand, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting any necessary tie-breaking votes.

The race was the most expensive in U.S. Senate history, with the candidates and outside groups spending more than $287 million.

The bitter campaign included attacks on Cunningham after a woman confirmed to have had an affair with him this year and countless ads suggesting Tillis was more interested in donations from corporate interests than in ensuring North Carolina residents had access to health care.

"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," Cunningham said. "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."

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