North Carolina is a gerrymandered state—so badly gerrymandered that 10 out of 13 Congressional districts were Republican when the population is roughly 50/50 Republicans/Democrats. The map even cut a college campus in half. This was so blatant that the state got sued, and the court ordered a redraw. Of course, because the people who were ordered to redraw the map were the same people who had drawn the bad map in the first place, the result was another gerrymandered map. The result was also a Democratic voting block utterly fed up with being underrepresented. There’s a good chance they’ll balance out this lopsided representation by flipping a Senate seat. Especially in a state known for flipping Senate seats.
Republican incumbent: Thom Tillis
Why Tillis is a target: Trying to have it both ways has made Tillis an unpopular figure. First he stands up to President Trump’s wall, then he backs down and supports it with $80 million from NC’s military budget. The first try loses support with his base, the second with everybody else. Last year, Tillis spent half his campaign cash to fend off a primary challenge from the right. Still, he started the year with a 37% disapproval rating vs 34% approval. Trump’s coattails don’t promise much help, with approval and disapproval tied at just under 50% in North Carolina.
Democratic challenger: Cal Cunningham
Why Cunningham is an exciting candidate: The strongest statement for Cal Cunningham’s candidacy was made by the Republican Party when it spent $2.4 million on behalf of one of his primary opponents. This was rudely unfair to Erica Smith, who has strong bona fides in her own right. But Cunningham’s fundraising far outdistanced his competitors, his polling numbers climbed, and his record captured the support of the DSCC. Cunningham won the March 3 primary, so he will face Tillis. It’s nice to know cheaters didn’t prosper.
Cunningham earned his law degree from UNC, Chapel Hill. He has served in the Army and in the North Carolina Senate, where he worked to advance early childhood education, public school financing, and teacher pay.. For his service as a Reservist in Afghanistan and Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star and the prestigious General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Read more about Cal Cunningham’s background here.
Charlotte Observer: Our endorsement for the U.S. Senate Democratic primary in North Carolina
Full list of Democratic candidates:
Cal Cunningham @CalforNC
Trevor Fuller @fullerfornc
Atul Goel @AtulGoel4Senate
Erica Smith @EricaforUSSen20