Democratic Senate Candidate Cal Cunningham Raises $1M In Third Quarter
North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham raised more than $1 million in the third quarter, and has $1.1 million cash on hand five months before the March 3 primary.
Cunningham has raised $1.72 million for the election cycle, according to the campaign.
Democrats are hoping to defeat Republican first-term incumbent Thom Tillis in 2020, in what national political experts say is expected to be one of the nation's most competitive Senate races.
Cunningham, of Lexington, is a former state Senator who was elected in 2000. He lost to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in the 2010 U.S. Senate Democratic primary.
Cunningham -- who has not held elected office since 2003 -- was running for lieutenant governor earlier this year before switching to the Senate race. Some high-profile Democrats, such as attorney general Josh Stein, former Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx and state senator Jeff Jackson declined to run.
He met with the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in Washington earlier this year, and Republicans have called him "Chuck Schumer’s handpicked candidate."
Though state and national Democrats appear to have coalesced around Cunningham, there are two others running in the Democratic primary: Mecklenburg Commissioner Trevor Fuller and State Senator Erica Smith, who represents a rural northeastern district.
Smith has not yet released her third quarter report. She had raised just under $90,000 through June 30, and had $25,314 cash on hand.
Fuller, who has received little media attention, had a little more than $1,000 cash on hand through the second quarter.
Cunnigham has rasied more money at this point in the race than Tillis has in 2013, before he defeated Democrat Kay Hagan in 2014.
But Tillis has nearly $4.4 million cash on hand, according to his most recent campaign finance report, which runs through the second quarter.
Tillis has already started avertising on TV, with an ad that highlights his close ties with President Trump. Trump has endorsed Tillis, though some Republicans are wary of Tillis after he initially said he would vote against the president's emergency declaration for border wall funding.
The Tillis campaign said it plans to spend $2.2 million on the TV ads, according to the Charlotte Observer.
By highlighting the president's endorsement, Tillis trying to fend off a primary challenge from Raleigh businesman Garland Tucker.
Through the second quarter, Tucker had raised a little more than $1 million, which includes a $700,000 loan to his campaign. He has not released his third-quarter report.
Cunningham's donors include Janet Cowell, the former state treasurer who was rumored to be a Senate candidate earlier this year; Carolyn Hunt, the wife of former Gov. Jim Hunt; Charlotte businesswoman Crandall Bowles; and former Charlotte City Council member Betty Chafin Rash.