The most expensive US Senate race in history is over and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis won reelection.
Tillis, with 2,640,379 votes for 48.7 percent, defeated Democrat Cal Cunningham, who had 2,543,672 votes for 46.9 percent.
The vote counts are unofficial but that gives Tillis a 96,707 margin, which appears to be more than enough to hold up when late arriving absentee ballots are counted on Nov. 12.
This race had some of everything – scandal, sickness and huge amounts of money being spent by both candidates.
The Democrats saw Tillis as vulnerable and as one of the incumbent Republicans they had to knock off to win a majority in the Senate.
The two candidates combined reportedly spent over $287 million on this race and that figure will only go up as spending in the final days of the campaign is added. Of that total, at least $141 million, according to “Open Secrets,” is from super PAC and so-called dark money organizations that don’t have to reveal their donors.
Cunningham raised over $28 million in the third quarter alone.
But what appeared to push Tillis over the top in this race was not the money spent but the fact that Cunningham admitted to having an affair during the campaign, and to make matters worse the affair was with the wife of an injured American veteran.
In his campaign, Cunningham who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and an Iraq war veteran pushed his military record in campaign advertising.
Because of the scandal and reports of a second affair, Cunningham avoided the media during the last month of the campaign when he normally would have been campaigning all over the state and seeking media coverage.
But just after the news of Cunningham’s affair was made public, Tillis tested positive for COVID-19 and had to self-quarantine in his home in Cornelius. So for a week, in one of the hottest campaigns in the state, both candidates were off the campaign trail, for very different reasons.
Tillis did come back and appeared with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Tillis also ran a series of campaign ads questioning Cunningham’s trustworthiness, integrity and honesty.