Democrats Kathy Manning and Cal Cunningham win big in races for Congress and Senate on Super Tuesday.
By 10:45 p.m., Kathy Manning’s campaign was celebrating and cheering inside South End Brewing in downtown Greensboro.
With about 90 percent of precincts reporting across Guilford and Forsyth counties, Manning’s campaign had declared victory in the race for the newly drawn 6th Congressional District. Manning gathered 48.4 percent of the vote statewide, while Rhonda Foxx and Bruce Davis fought for a far-off second place with 19.9 and 15.1 percent respectively.
“Thank you all for everything you have done to get us to this night,” Manning said in her victory speech. “Since the moment I decided to run, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have jumped in to help…. You have lifted me up with your enthusiasm, and I want you to know how much that has meant to me.”
After thanking her supporters and her team, Manning congratulated her opponents and talked about the importance of the new district. She ran against four other candidates in the race including Foxx, Davis, Derwin Montgomery and Ed Hanes Jr.
“It is a privilege to run for office,” Manning said. “It is a particular privilege to run in this newly drawn 6th district. A district that makes sense, a Triad district that includes all of Guilford County, all of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem, because this is a district that has so much in common. We have all suffered from the loss of manufacturing jobs and we all have significant portions of our community that have not shared in the economic recovery that our president likes to crow about.”
In addition to leveling criticism against Donald Trump, Manning pointed to specific issues facing the district including food insecurity, homelessness, underfunded schools, increasing gun violence and threats to the environment.
Going forward, Manning said she and voters have two goals to keep in mind for November. At the federal level, Manning talked about the importance of keeping the House and flipping the Senate and getting a new president elected. At the state level, she used similar language and talked about re-electing Gov. Roy Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein and flipping the state House and Senate.
“I know that sounds like a tall order, but it’s critical that we do everything we can to achieve these goals because it’s the only way we’re going to get our country back on track,” Manning said.
Manning, who lost to Rep. Ted Budd for the 13th Congressional District seat in 2018, proved to be a prolific fundraiser during, drawing in more than $4.2 million for that campaign. According to the state board of election, Manning had raised $871,471.72 since January 2019 for this year’s election cycle and had $436,280 cash on hand. Foxx, who came in second, raised $130,773, while Davis, who came in third, raised $5,085.
Anthony Gutierrez, a 24-year-old voter, said that he was swayed by Manning’s strong advertising campaign.
“I voted for Kathy Manning mostly because of all the ads that she’s been putting out,” he said at the Piedmont Baptist Association, where he voted on Tuesday. “I looked up on some of what she wants to do, and I think she can get some bills passed that would make a difference.”
Just down the street, Davis sat in front of a computer screen in his campaign office in downtown Greensboro.
“So far, I see a lot of precincts that haven’t come in yet, the larger precincts that we’re hoping will do well, especially the High Point precincts,” Davis said. “So we’re just still kind of hopeful looking at things as they progress.”
Foxx said that she wanted to congratulate Manning on her victory.
“At this point, we need to unite as Democrats so we can defeat Trump and Thom Tillis,” she said. “And I’m proud that a woman will go to represent this district in Congress.”
In the US Senate race, Cal Cunningham called his victory much earlier in the night, when he shared a tweet by the Associated Press that declared him the winner at around 8:45 p.m. on Facebook.
“Thank you, North Carolina. I am honored to be your Democratic nominee for US Senate,” Cunningham wrote.
Like Manning, Cunningham won by a large margin in his race, with 57.0percent of the vote statewide against Erica Smith, who came in second with 34.0 percent, Trevor Fuller with 3.8 percent and Steve Swenson and Atul Goel, who both got less than 3 percent each.
In February, Republican operatives flooded airwaves with ads supporting Cunningham’s opponent, Smith, which stoked indignation among Democratic voters who were angry about GOP interference. One voter on Tuesday said that the GOP ploy may have worked in Cunningham’s favor.
“It just bothered me the way the Republican PAC associated themselves with Erica Smith,” said Betty Marks, a 70-year-old African American woman who voted at Piedmont Baptist Association on Tuesday. “And I think that may hurt her in this election because a lot of people don’t understand that she didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Marks said that after the news about the interference came out, that it made her wonder if Cunningham had a chance to win against Tillis.
Prior to the election, the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer, noted that Cunningham was the safer bet to beat Tillis in November.
“For primary voters who are concerned more with choosing a candidate most equipped to beat Tillis,” the editorial panel said, “Cunningham offers the clearest path forward. His more moderate positions on issues such as healthcare will appeal to the persuadable voters that Democrats need for a repeat of the 2018 blue wave, and Tillis surely would prefer to spend the summer telling those center-to-right North Carolinians about Smith’s Medicare for All support and advocacy of marijuana legalization.”
In an interview with Triad City Beat last month, Cunningham said that he would strengthen the Affordable Care Act if elected and would invest in a clean energy economy to create good-paying jobs. He also had a direct message for both Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis during a February candidate forum in Charlotte.
“We are coming for you,” he said.
On the Republican side, Tillis won his Senate seat handily, drawing in 78.1 percent of the vote against three challengers.
Tillis was previously considered vulnerable to a Republican primary, but an endorsement from President Trump last June appears to have made a difference.
“Trump and Tillis butted heads,” said David Hill, a UAW member who works at Freightliner in Rowan County. “Thom did some things I would consider not conservative. I was dead-set against him at first. I ended up voting for him in the primary because of Trump’s endorsement. I like the direction the president’s going in.”
In the 6th Congressional District Republican primary, Lee Haywood won the primary against Laura Pichardo, with 73.25 percent of the vote.