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Learn everything you need to know about voting in the upcoming election, including how to vote in person or through the mail as well as local candidates' positions on various issues and why they think you should vote for them.

U.S. Senate

WFAE asked candidates for North Carolina candidates for the U.S. Senate questions about why they should be elected (or reelected). Here are the answers we've received.

CAL CUNNINGHAM, DEMOCRAT

cunningham.jpg
@CalforNC

What are your top legislative priorities for the U.S. Senate in 2021?

Healthcare: One of the most frequent issues I hear about is the urgent need to improve access and bring down the cost of health care for families. I will fight to strengthen the ACA, expand Medicaid, create a public option and fight to ensure no one loses their employer-sponsored coverage who wants to keep it.

Jobs: The only economy that truly works is an economy that generates opportunities for everyone. I will fight for a more equitable economy and living wage in every community by standing with workers to support efforts to promote good-paying full-time jobs with benefits, rein in the cost of higher education and health care, defend workplace protections, and finally raise the minimum wage.

Education: The quality of our children’s education shouldn’t depend on where they grow up, their family circumstances, their race, their wealth, or a disability, and I believe that public education—and the investments we make in our children through schools—should be an engine of opportunity for all North Carolinians. I will invest in public education, fight to pay teachers what they deserve, support early childhood education and work to lower the cost of college and expand access to community college and technical training.

What course of action will you take as a U.S. senator to help lower the transmission rates of COVID-19?

In the Army Reserve, I learned that in a crisis, our leaders must identify critical objectives, plan a response, marshal the resources, and communicate that plan clearly. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demands that same leadership and good judgment, as communities and frontline workers deal with the day-to-day realities of this pandemic. In May, I released a plan that’s on my website now to address the economic and health challenges related to the global pandemic. That plan includes increasing testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), promoting American manufacturing and supply chains for critical national priorities -- such as pharmaceuticals and other technology-sensitive medical equipment and supplies, and providing financial support to research institutions working to develop vaccines, and preparing to manufacture and distribute a vaccine on a mass scale, while protecting U.S. intellectual property.

What if any additional federal response should be done to help businesses and unemployed North Carolinians affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

I’ve continually called on Congress and my opponent to do their jobs and pass another round of COVID relief to expand enhanced unemployment benefits, relieve state and local government budget shortfalls, provide resources for schools, small businesses and the postal service and pass a Medicaid expansion incentive. In my COVID-19 plan, I’ve also outlined ways to create jobs and get North Carolinians back to work. My priorities include: expanding national service programs to help communities recover and put people to work, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs by putting people to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and ensuring displaced workers can access education and training through North Carolina community colleges. We also need to work to build a stronger safety net for those who have been hurt economically by the pandemic that includes building on the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, extending and expanding unemployment benefits and supporting families by providing workers with paid sick and family leave, and making childcare widely available and affordable.

What do you think the next Congress should do with the Affordable Care Act?

North Carolinians continue to struggle with the rising cost of premiums, co-pays, and prescription drugs, and there are still more than 1 million people in our state without any coverage at all. I know our health care system isn’t perfect and there are real issues Congress needs to work together to fix. In the Senate, I will fight to strengthen and extend coverage under the Affordable Care Act, expand Medicaid in North Carolina, create a public health insurance option, support rural hospitals, address doctor shortages, support life-saving research to prevent and treat diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS, and ensure no one loses their employer-sponsored coverage who wants to keep it. I will oppose any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, gut protections for people who have a pre-existing medical condition, and allow big insurance companies to impose what the AARP calls an “age tax” on older North Carolinians that could cost them thousands of dollars more. In the Senate, I will also do everything I can to stop the dangerous lawsuit pushed forward by Washington Republicans that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act and its protections.

What should Congress do to slow down the effects of climate change and protect the U.S. from the impact - such as coastal erosion and wildfires?

North Carolina has seen the effects of climate change firsthand through the historic storms and flooding that have ravaged our state — this is one of the most urgent issues facing us. We need to invest in a clean energy economy that will create good-paying jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and make North Carolina a leader. Solar energy is already spreading across this state, providing good-paying jobs for our workers and economic investment in rural areas. North Carolina has the research facilities to design the next generation solar panels and the manufacturing base to lead on solar energy and I intend to help that happen.

Additional information about Cal Cunningham can be found here.

THOM TILLIS, REPUBLICAN (incumbent)

Sen. Thom Tillis
Thom Tillis align=left

What are your top legislative priorities for the U.S. Senate in 2021?

My top legislative priorities are the economy, community safety and military families and veterans. I want to defeat COVID-19 and rebuild our economy through pro-growth policies like cutting taxes for working families and creating more good-paying jobs here in North Carolina. We must also keep our communities safe by curbing sanctuary cities, supporting law enforcement and holding those responsible for targeted attacks on our police officers accountable. Lastly, I want to continue improving the lives of North Carolina military families, especially improving access to health care and job opportunities for veterans.

What course of action will you take as a U.S. senator to help lower the transmission rates of COVID-19?

It’s incredibly important to follow the safety guidelines of health professionals, and I’ve been vocal about the importance of handwashing, social distancing and wearing facial coverings. I am going to continue supporting Operation Warp Speed so a safe and effective vaccine can be readily available for all Americans. I also introduced the America First Vaccine Act to ensure Americans gain access to U.S. made vaccine before other countries.

What if any additional federal response should be done to help businesses and unemployed North Carolinians affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

North Carolinians have been hit hard by this pandemic. It has cost people to lose their jobs, closed small businesses and put a tremendous amount of stress on our economy. A few weeks ago, I voted for a COVID relief bill that addresses all of these things. The bill includes vaccine funding, emergency loans to small businesses, additional unemployment benefits, as well as liability protections for schools and health care providers, but my opponent, Cal Cunningham, said he would’ve voted against it. He opposes this critically-needed relief because he’d rather use this virus as a political prop rather than defeat this virus. While Cunningham ignores the needs of North Carolinians, I’ll continue fighting to protect the physical and economic health of our state.

What do you think the next Congress should do with the Affordable Care Act?

Both Republicans and Democrats agree that Obamacare isn’t working. I support replacing Obamacare’s broken system with a market-based solution that lowers costs, expands choice, ensures protections for patients with preexisting conditions, and allows individuals to be covered by their parents’ plan up to the age of 26. While in the Senate, I’ve worked to protect those with pre-existing conditions regardless of Obamacare’s future in the courts through the Protect Act. Over 150 million Americans receive health insurance from their employers and are perfectly happy with their coverage. I will never support a government takeover of our healthcare system that takes away your employer-sponsored coverage.

What should Congress do to slow down the effects of climate change and protect the U.S. from the impact - such as coastal erosion and wildfires?

Our country must continue to develop and expand clean and renewable energy, and I’ve been a longtime supporter of the solar industry. While I was Speaker of the House in Raleigh, I helped negotiate a renewable portfolio standard for North Carolina. I also support more energy independence and resiliency for our military installations because renewable energy sources protect and advance our national security. As long as I’m in the U.S. Senate I will continue to work across the aisle to find market-driven solutions to increasing our nation’s renewable energy.

Additional information about Thom Tillis can be found here.