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After NC Senate 'epic fail,' Democrats trade blame for Cal Cunningham loss

A Democratic North Carolina state lawmaker is blaming the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and "career" politicians for favoring candidate Cal Cunningham after the party's "epic fail" in the North Carolina Senate race.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blamed Cunningham's loss on his inability "to keep his zipper up" on recent calls with party donors, Axios reported, citing sources with direct knowledge of the conversations. 

Cunningham, who is married, admitted in October to exchanging romantic texts with Californiawoman Arlene Guzman Todd after the messages leaked. Guzman Todd later told The Associated Press that they had a physical affair.

"The DSCC pattern of interfering in primaries and often elevating moderates at the expense of progressive people of color is disappointing and ultimately hurt us in multiple races across the nation in the 2020 cycle," North Carolina state Sen. Erica Smith told The American Prospect in a recent interview.

"I think it was an epic fail because there was too much undue influence in this race, whether you’re talking about interference by the DSCC, career politicians, dark money," she continued.

Oct. 1, 2020: Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham talks during a televised debate with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

Oct. 1, 2020: Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham talks during a televised debate with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

Cunningham beat Smith 56.9% to 34.8% in the primary, according to Ballotpedia, but he lost to incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in the general election.

"I was pushed aside for someone else who had not been in office in 17 years," Smith said. "I thought I was checking off the boxes that they wanted. That’s a failure of the party to listen to the people of North Carolina. It’s not just D.C., it’s leadership within our state, who are no longer listening to the people they’re elected to serve."

Despite the scandalous headlines, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee stuck with Cunningham. The DSCC confirmed to Fox News in October that it added an additional $3 million to its ad buy for the final two weeks of Cunningham's bid against Tillis.

More than $280 million was spent on the Cunningham-Tillis race, making it the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history.



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