Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham won the Democratic nomination for the Senate on Tuesday, setting him up to face off against Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKoch-backed group launches ad campaign to support four vulnerable GOP senators The Hill’s Campaign Report: It’s primary night in Georgia Tillis unveils new 0,000 ad in North Carolina Senate race MORE (R-N.C.) in November.
Cunningham prevailed over three other Democrats who were running for the party’s nomination in the North Carolina Senate primary.
Cunningham was viewed as the front-runner and won the endorsement last year of national Democrats, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
ADVERTISEMENTRepublicans have viewed him as the strongest potential challenger to Tillis, whose race is rated by The Cook Political Report as “leans Republican.”
The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), a super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.), poured money into TV ads during the primary to try to boost state Sen. Erica Smith (D).
Smith is the more liberal candidate in the field, openly embracing “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal, and GOP strategists saw her as a weaker general election candidate against Tillis.
Republicans ran the ads through the Faith and Power PAC, a group funded entirely by the SLF.
SLF President Steven Law called the decision an “unqualified success” because it forced Democrats to spend cash in North Carolina defending Cunningham.
Cunningham is entering the general election with a cash disadvantage compared to Tillis.
His campaign had $1.47 million cash on hand in mid-February, according to Federal Election Commission records. Tillis, by comparison, had more than $5.4 million in the same time period.
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