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Good evening and thank you, North Carolina!
I’m Cal Cunningham, your Democratic nominee, and with the votes counted tonight, we’re one step closer to replacing Thom Tillis in the United States Senate!
One step closer to replacing his partisanship with our patriotism.
And one step closer to putting the values and voices of North Carolina first in our country’s debates.
Now, Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis’ allies snuck into our primary to try to trick voters.
Tonight won’t be the last time their deception fails — because here in North Carolina, the truth still matters.
After September 11, I joined the Army Reserve and took an oath: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
To take on the foreign challenges: I volunteered to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, served as a Judge Advocate and paratrooper and trained Green Berets at Fort Bragg.
For that service, I was awarded a Bronze Star and the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership award.
But, I never would have imagined that one of the greatest threats to our country’s future would be Washington itself.
So, I’m running to fulfill that oath — by taking on the corruption in Washington that is standing in the way of progress on the most important issues of our time.
It is a political corruption and a financial corruption.
It is stopping us from bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and delivering quality, affordable care to all North Carolinians.
It is stopping us from taking action to address the climate crisis and flooding that has damaged homes and businesses, and threatened the livelihoods of too many of our people.
It’s stopping us from raising wages and giving tax cuts directly to families so they can keep more of the money they work so hard for.
It’s stopping us from giving students the futures they deserve by investing in our schools and our educators.
The way we stop that corruption is with political reform. That’s why when I take office I’ll file a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
In the push and pull of Washington politics, Thom Tillis has decided there are things more important than representing North Carolina.
He has put his own political interests, and serving the special interests, ahead of North Carolina’s interests.
He did it when he flip-flopped to allow the White House to take $80 million from our state’s military — he was too weak to stand up to the President whose support he so badly craves.
He did it when he prioritized his corporate donors by handing out a massive tax break to them while voting to raise taxes on over half of our state’s families.
And he did it when he stood up in his maiden speech in the Senate and advocated for drilling off the coast of North Carolina, putting oil and gas ahead of our coastal communities.
The fact of the matter is, Washington has broken Thom Tillis. He’s too weak to stand up to his partisan friends and corporate backers, even when it is wrong for our state.
Well I am here to tell him that North Carolinians are loyal, hardworking, decent and proudly independent people, and we expect the same from our U.S. Senator.
That, my friends, will be the difference between me and Thom Tillis.
We know this campaign isn’t just about replacing a bad Senator. It is about answering the fundamental question about what kind of North Carolina we want to raise our children in.
Will we live out the Biblical creed to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper?
Will we turn against the partisan forces that divide us to work together and govern this country again?
And, will we rise to the challenge to leave our state and our country in a better place for the next generation?
Because I know you, I believe that we will.
I’m honored to be standing here tonight as your Democratic nominee, but this campaign isn’t about me, it belongs to you:
To my wife, Elizabeth and our kids, Caroline and Will. For your love, support and patience – you bear the brunt of the long hours and days that make this campaign possible.
To Mom and Dad and my family on stage here tonight: Thank you for instilling in me the values that drive me to serve.
To my campaign team: You are the best. Most dedicated. And hardest working. Tonight’s success belongs to you.
To the volunteers and supporters that make this campaign possible, thank you for believing, for donating, for showing up and for becoming ambassadors across our state.
And to my fellow Democrats, Senator Smith, Commissioner Fuller, and Dr. Goel. Our Democracy is at its best when we all stand up for what we believe. It has been an honor to be in this race with you and I look forward to working together to move North Carolina forward in the years to come.
Finally, I want to speak to all 10.5 million people who call North Carolina home.
I know that today many of you made a different choice — maybe you voted for another candidate in this race, or you pulled a Republican ballot. Or maybe you didn’t vote at all, feeling like your voice isn’t being heard.
Growing up in Lexington, we didn’t check voter registration cards before we took care of our neighbors. We believed in service, hard work, and fighting for justice.
The spirit of those same neighbors that took care of my family while I was overseas is the spirit of North Carolinians across our state who more than anything just want us looking out for each other.
That’s why I’m going to keep traveling and listening. I want to hear from you. I want to connect with you and your family, to have the opportunity to hear your story and build a relationship.
It’s okay if we don’t agree on every issue.
Just as I gave my word when I took the oath, I give you my word tonight:
I will always listen first. I will always honor your North Carolina experience. And I will work to take your story to Washington, to be your champion.
I’m going to go places where candidates, and too often Democrats, don’t always go, and I’m going to talk to folks who don’t always agree, to have tough conversations.
Because that’s what it means to be a Senator in this great democracy.
I believe the future is bright for all North Carolinians, because I know you – and I trust you.
I would consider it an honor to serve this state that I love, in a country that I love.
Tomorrow, I don’t rest. I hit the road again — in the next step on a path to victory in November and the next step to a better future for North Carolina.
Please join me.
Thank you and God bless the great state of North Carolina