On Nov. 10, one week after Election Day, incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina was declared the winner of the senate race in his bid to retain his congressional seat after a long, hard-fought race.
His opponent, Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham conceded. With this Senate seat secured for the Republicans, the GOP is assured of at least 50 seats in the Senate in the 2020 election.
According to North Carolina’s State Board of Elections website, with almost 100 percent of the precincts reporting by 4 p.m. on Nov. 10, Tillis had 48.70 percent of the vote and Cunningham had 46.96 percent. The difference of 94,565 votes was insurmountable with the outstanding votes.
“I just called Senator Tillis to congratulate him on winning re-election to a second term in the U.S. Senate and wished him and his family the best in their continued service in the months and years ahead,” Cunningham said in a statement. “The voters have spoken and I respect their decision.”
Tillis also issued a statement saying: “Earlier this afternoon, Cal Cunningham called me to offer his concession. This was a hard-fought campaign and I wish nothing but the best to Cal and his family going forward.”
This close senate race garnered attention from all over the country
Tillis, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, trailed Cunningham in all major polls throughout the campaign.
However, the 47-year-old Cunningham suffered a major setback when he was exposed to have had an extramarital affair with the wife of a fellow military veteran who called on Cunningham to drop out of the race.
Republicans seized on Cunningham’s sex scandal and slammed him as unfit for public office. Cunningham’s ethical problems allowed Tillis to surge ahead in the polls in October.
Democrats spent heavily to flip Senate, results disappoint
Through October, Democratic candidates for Senate far outpaced their Republican opponents in campaign fundraising.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Democrats outspent Republicans in all 13 states with Senate races — Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
The top target Democrats wanted to unseat was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham.
Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison raised a staggering $107 million in this race. Graham played key roles in the confirmation process for Supreme Court justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
The second-highest spending race targeted by Democrats was in Iowa. Incumbent Republican Joni Ernst was perceived to be vulnerable and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield received nearly $100 million from the Senate Democratic Committee, more than three times Ernst’s campaign budget, in her failed bid.
Democrats did manage to flip two seats in this election cycle. John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Arizona’s Mark Kelly defeated incumbent Martha McSally.
However, Republicans also managed to regain the Alabama senate seat vacated by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Former University of Alabama football head coach Tommy Tuberville successfully defeated Democratic incumbent Doug Jones.
Republicans assured of a tie in Senate
Tillis’s victory gave Republicans 49 seats in the Senate. The following day (Nov. 11), incumbent Republican Senator Dan Sullivan was also declared the winner to reelection.
Republicans currently hold 50 seats in the 100-member body in the next congress, versus 48 for the Democrats. The two Senate seats from Georgia will be decided in runoffs in January 2021.
As it stands, if Trump wins reelection, the Republicans will retain control of the Senate regardless of the Georgia runoff outcomes.