Despite Pandemic, NC Democrats Netting Record Fundraising Totals

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham speaks to supporters in March 2020. The Democratic candidate conceded to Sen. Thom Tillis on Tuesday, Nov. 10. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By jenniferbringle

July 7, 2020

US Senate candidate Cal Cunningham reports record-breaking haul. And Dems in the state House and Senate are bullish on their fundraising too.

With Election Day less than four months away, Democratic candidates in North Carolina are reporting record fundraising numbers even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham’s campaign announced it has raised $7.4 million in the second quarter of 2020, a record for one quarter among Senate candidates from North Carolina. That announcement comes on the heels of the news that the North Carolina House Democratic Caucus has raised more than $1 million, with more than half a million coming on its inaugural Day of Giving, held June 25. 

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“Our average donation was $54.01, which shows us that even in the midst of a global pandemic and in a time with record unemployment, there are teachers sending in $5 and $10, who know how important it is to fully fund schools,” said Da’Quan Love, NC House Democratic Caucus political director. 

Similarly, 96% of Cunningham’s contributions have been less than $100 each, with a third of donors giving more than once. The campaign reports having $6.6 million on hand and has raised nearly $15 million over the course of the race.

“Our campaign is so grateful to the thousands of North Carolinians lending their support to this campaign, showing that people across the state are ready to elect Cal and put this seat back to work to protect their health care and take on corruption in Washington,” Cunningham campaign manager Devan Barber said in a statement. 

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Cunningham’s opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, has not yet released second quarter fundraising numbers. But by the end of the first quarter, Tillis had raised $11.7 million total over the course of the campaign.

The House Democratic Caucus reports having more than $1.1 million on hand, with 95% of Democratic candidates in the most competitive races having raised more than $100,000 this cycle and 96% holding more than $100,000 cash on hand. 

Those funds will help support candidates in key races where Democrats hope to flip six Republican-held seats to retake the chamber majority. One of those, House District 82, has Democrat Aimy Steele looking to unseat Republican Kristin Baker, who was appointed to the seat in March after 18-year representative Linda Johnson passed away in February.

“It has been quite a journey raising funds amid everything going on with the pandemic and social unrest in our society,” said Steele. “It has been different this cycle. We’ve continued to articulate to people that we care about them as a person first and tried to get our message out.”

Despite Pandemic, NC Democrats Netting Record Fundraising Totals
Democrat Aimy Steele of Cabarrus County is trying to win a long-held Republican seat in the NC House of Representatives. (Image via Steele’s campaign)

In the Senate, Democrats are also aiming to reclaim the majority after breaking the Republicans’ super-majority by gaining additional seats in the last election cycle.

“In 2018, we exceeded everyone’s expectations, and we broke the super-majority in the Senate,” said Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, a Wake County Democrat. “Now, our sights are set on taking the majority in 2020. These historic fundraising numbers are proof that we are serious about flipping the Senate—and they are proof that we can win big in November.” 

Cardinal & Pine reached out to the Republican House and Senate caucuses but did not receive fundraising numbers. We also reached out to several GOP candidates who declined to respond.

In a campaign season with limited opportunity for big fundraising gatherings due to COVID-19, the power of smaller donations appears more important than ever, and Democrats in North Carolina are banking on that kind of support to put them over the top in November.

“I’m feeling great,” said Steele. “I’m feeling lots of support, especially from a grassroots fundraising perspective. People are saying they see that you represent us and we want to see you serve.”


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