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Cunningham And Tillis Fight For A Leg Up in North Carolina U.S. Senate Race

A top-down photo of the empty Senate chamber in Washington, D.C.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham faced off last night in the first of three televised debates. This race is one of the most closely watched in the country as it is considered a true toss up. 

If the vote goes to Cunningham, Democrats need to win four additional seats in November to ensure control in the U.S. Senate. Many of the questions in the hour-long debate focused on topics related to the coronavirus pandemic. The two also sparred over systemic racism and each other’s records. Tillis won the seat in 2014 from incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan. Cal Cunningham is a corporate attorney and retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. Liberatarian Shannon Bray and Constitution Party nominee Kevin Hayes both appear on the ballot, but neither appeared in Monday’s debate. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC’s Jeff Tiberii, the capitol bureau chief and host of the “WUNC Politics Podcast,” about his takeaways and what to look out for in the next two debates, which are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 22 and Thursday, Oct. 1.

Kaia Findlay is the lead producer of Embodied, WUNC's weekly podcast and radio show about sex, relationships and health. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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