RALEIGH — Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis defeated Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham to win a second term in the Senate, with a margin of over 96,000 votes with all precincts reporting.
An extramarital affair with a fellow disabled veteran’s wife that included sexually charged text messages had plagued Cunningham throughout the final months of the campaign. Cunningham spent most of October dodging media questions and limiting his public appearances.
Democrats dropped around $125 million into the race opposing Tillis. Over $280 million in total were spent by outside groups making it the most expensive senate race in history.
Tillis spent the final weeks of the race on a statewide barnstorming tour, with notable names like Sen. Ted Cruz and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley coming to North Carolina to stump for him.
“What we accomplished was a stunning victory,” Tillis said on Tuesday night. “We’ve heard this before. You’re down in the polls, there’s no chance of winning and I believed in every single one of you. Knocking on doors, making phone calls, getting the message out. Letting everybody know that the truth still does matter, letting everybody know that character still matters and letting everybody know that keeping your promises still matters.”
A statement from the Cunningham campaign said “The State Board of Elections is continuing to count ballots, and we plan to allow that process to be carried out, so every voter can have their voice heard.”
The N.C. State Board of Elections (NCSBE) will continue to accept absentee ballots through Nov. 12. Due to the extended deadline for those ballots, results reported on election night may change.