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Cal Cunningham Picks Up Support In October, As Senator Tillis Faces “Major Hurdles,” “Moans And Groans” & Nasty Primary Challenge

October was a pivotal month in the North Carolina Senate race — as Cal Cunningham gained endorsements and crisscrossed the state talking to North Carolinians, Senator Thom Tillis is more vulnerable than ever, facing “major hurdles in winning a second term.”

Cal has easily topped the…Democratic field in fundraising and endorsements since entering the race in June,” and this week announced support from all 100 North Carolina counties. Meanwhile, the Tillis-Garland Tucker match up continues to get nastier.

It’s no wonder national observers like Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have both rated the race as a toss-up.

Here’s a closer look at the last month of the North Carolina Senate race. 


“A snake don’t turn into a puppy just because he puts a flea collar on.” — Whiteville, NC Registered Nurse & President Trump Supporter About Thom Tillis.

  • The Wall Street Journal this month profiled Senator Thom Tillis’ reelection bid, which is being met with “moans and groans” from those within his own party, forcing him into “defending his Trump bona fides.” “Dominating” Tillis’ reelection bid is the fact that though he is now “in lockstep” with President Trump, “he hasn’t always been,” and the “earlier daylight between Mr. Tillis and Mr. Trump has given an opening to his opponent in next March’s primary, businessman Garland Tucker.”

  • That challenge heated up this month with Tillis releasing a new TV ad to respond to attacks against his conservative credentials including a six-figure ad buy from a pro-Garland Tucker group and multiple ads from Garland Tucker’s campaign. Before the latest ad buy, Tillis was already spending $2 million on TV, plus invested in digital ads, radio ads and a microsite.

  • It doesn’t help that Senator Tillis is the least popular Senator in the county, according to new ratings out from Morning Consult in October.


“My loyalty is to 10.5 million North Carolinians. This is where I grew up. These are the people that I live with, these are the people who make me who I am today and nobody is going to tell me how to vote in the United States Senate except the people of North Carolina.” — Cal Cunningham to Fox 8 High Point.


“Sen. Thom Tillis is relying on big-money donors and industry political action committees to raise money for his 2020 re-election bid…” — Charlotte Observer

  • Cal Cunningham edged Tillis out” among individual donors last quarter, and had strong small dollar support, with 94 percent of all contributions in the third quarter under $100 dollars.

  • While Cal’s campaign has refused to take corporate PAC money and is running a people-powered campaign, Tillis is “relying on big-money donors and industry political action committees” to prop him up, according to an analysis by the Charlotte Observer. Only four percent of Tillis’ contributions came from small dollar donors, and he ranks second in PAC money received so far in 2020 among Senators.

  • Following a less than stellar quarter for Tillis, Tillis earned the support of Mitch McConnell-aligned special interest groups that have committed to spend $190 million to “protect McConnell’s most endangered incumbents.”