Though polls showed him down just under three points heading into Election Day, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has officially defeated his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham. According to the New York Times, Tillis led by fewer than 100,000 votes (a 2% lead) at the end of the most expensive Senate contest in the state's history.
The victory for Tillis was a critical win for Republicans as they attempt to hold on to the Senate and thus provide a check on the legislative agenda of incoming Democrat Joe Biden, should he be certified the winner of the presidential election.
Tillis took to Twitter to express his appreciation the voters who supported him.
Cunningham, whose significant lead in the polls through much of the race collapsed when details of an extramarital affair with public relations strategist Arlene Guzman Todd surfaced in early October, offered his own conciliatory remarks.
"I just called Senator Tillis to congratulate him on winning reelection 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," the 47-year-old Cunningham said. "The voters have spoken and I respect their decision."
Cunningham noted the "record numbers" of North Carolinians who voted in the election and vowed that this was not the end of the battle to "improve access to health care, strengthen education, heal racial wounds, and create better jobs."
"Though this isn't the electoral outcome we worked for," the defeated Democrat said, "I'll always be grateful to be a North Carolinian, and I'll always believe that our country's best days are ahead."