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Throughout his campaign, Cal has made it a point to connect with North Carolinians in places that Democrats don’t normally go, including many small towns and rural communities across the state. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Cal Cunningham continues to make good on his promise to campaign everywhere and listen, even as that looks a little different.
Cal’s been holding several virtual town halls each week, connecting with North Carolinians county-by-county to hear their concerns. Cal said of these events, “I can both cover a lot more geography quicker and engage people in a very meaningful dialogue.”
He is also using those conversations to give voice to North Carolinians’ needs, especially small towns and rural communities, including expanding access to broadband and expanding Medicaid, which would save many rural hospitals across the state and provide health coverage for more than 634,000 North Carolinians.
This weekend, Cal also weighed in on a report that the administration would block aid for the U.S. Postal Service if it doesn’t raise shipping prices for online retailers as it now suffers amid the pandemic. In a tweet, Cal Cunningham emphasized the need to protect the Postal Service, which is especially critical for those living in poverty in rural parts of the state. While many services have adapted to the digital world, rural communities without access to the internet continue to rely on mail to pay their bills and receive other information.
Cal understands the specific challenges small towns and rural communities face and will continue to hold federal leaders accountable for decisions that hurt North Carolina. That’s why he also spoke up about ensuring small towns and cities are able to directly access coronavirus relief funding, including recent comments by Mitch McConnell that state and local governments should “use the bankruptcy route” instead of looking to the federal government for aid. Thom Tillis finally admitted he agreed with McConnell on Friday, even though, “nearly all governments in the country are facing some level of fiscal hardship because of the COVID-19 outbreak—including those in Tillis’ home state.”
In response, Cal Cunningham said: “Communities around North Carolina are hurting, and we deserve a Senator who will fight for the resources they need.”
By Michael Scherer – April 26, 2020
The Democratic Party’s great hope for winning a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina spends his days during coronavirus lockdown repositioning his computer to avoid sun glare on his webcam.
“I have been relegated to the sun porch,” said Cal Cunningham, a former state lawmaker and military veteran, whose wife and teenage children were not impressed enough by his March 3 primary win to cede him workspace in their Raleigh home. “The challenge with the sun porch is that the sun starts on one side and moves to the other.”
Cunningham, meanwhile, has learned to stack his Zoom meetings one after another on the sun porch, flitting between county Democratic gatherings, small business leaders, fundraising events and staff calls. When the Internet goes down, taking his Zoom and Google Hangouts with it, he shifts to FaceTime to keep gripping and grinning from a distance.
“I can both cover a lot more geography quicker and engage people in a very meaningful dialogue,” he said of his new life on the digital campaign trail, praising the technology’s ability to put questions in a queue. “If I am standing in a courthouse room addressing 40, 50, 60 people, it is a little harder to get to everyone’s question.”
But for many politicians, firing up audiences and plunging into crowds is the heart of political life, and this period of isolation feels disturbingly impersonal. Cunningham, for one, will be happy to get off the porch.
“I certainly love to travel and see people in person,” he said. “I miss that tremendously.”
By Sam Brodey – April 24, 2020
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to draw the line on sending further coronavirus aid for hard-hit state and local governments on Wednesday, it caused a backlash among Democrats and even some Republicans.
But on Friday, one of the most politically vulnerable members of McConnell’s Senate GOP backed the leader. In a tele-town hall with constituents Friday morning, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was asked by a constituent if the Senate would be voting to “bail out poorly-run states that were near-bankrupt” before COVID-19 hit.
“Personally, I don’t think we should, and I don’t think that we can,” responded Tillis. “I’m not so sure taxpayer dollars from North Carolina should go to a state, a county, or a city that, like you said, was in poor economic shape before we even had the virus.”
“I’m more or less aligned with Leader McConnell on the issue,” said Tillis.
Tillis’ alignment with McConnell in this debate comes as the first-term GOP senator gears up for a stiff challenge from Democrat Cal Cunningham, a race that could be the most expensive and hard-fought Senate contest this November. In March, a super PAC aligned with McConnell set aside more money for TV ads to defend Tillis—$21.8 million—than any other battleground senator.
Though McConnell, Tillis, and other Republicans say they don’t want to reward poorly-managed jurisdictions with federal aid, nearly all governments in the country are facing some level of fiscal hardship because of the COVID-19 outbreak—including those in Tillis’ home state.