Democrat Cal Cunningham conceded to Republican US Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina on Tuesday, saying that "the voters have spoken" and that it was clear Tillis had won. With Cunningham's concession, the AP reports, all eyes turned to Georgia, where two US Senate runoff races in January are likely to determine the balance of the upper chamber. The race is still not called in Alaska, where GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan is favored for another term against Al Gross, an independent running as a Democrat. If the Senate ended up tied 50-50, Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would wield the tiebreaking vote. Georgia is closely divided, with Democrats making gains on Republicans, fueled by a surge of new voters. But no Democrat has been elected senator there in 20 years. In North Carolina, Tillis led Cunningham by more than 95,000 votes, or 1.76 percentage points.
"I just called Sen. Tillis to congratulate him on winning reelection to a second term in the US Senate and wished him and his family the best in their continued service in the months and years ahead," Cunningham said Tuesday. "The voters have spoken, and I respect their decision." Cunningham lost despite outraising Tillis during what became the most expensive Senate race in US history. All together, the two campaigns and outside groups spent $282 million on the general election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Tillis benefited from fallout over a Cunningham sex scandal in the campaign's final month, after Cunningham admitted to a recent extramarital relationship. Tillis said Cunningham’s emphasis on his personal story in the campaign made the misconduct a defining issue. Tillis was one of President Trump’s strongest defenders during impeachment but was criticized by the GOP base last year when he initially took a stance opposite the president on how to fund the border wall. Tillis later changed his mind.
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