U.S. Senate: Cal Cunningham (D)

Read his candidate questionnaire here.

You don’t have to like Cal Cunningham right now. The recklessness it takes to engage in a sophomoric text affair midway through one of the most expensive and consequential Senate races in the country, combined with the scripted cowardice with which he’s skirted answering for it, are character flaws that undermine the trust required of public servants. His carefully curated Southern gentility always rang a bit false, but the INDY swallowed our reservations for the sake of practicality during the primary (though in retrospect, his rival, Erica Smith, who has been busy endorsing Republicans, wouldn’t have been a great choice, either). 

It’s hard to like him. It’s hard to trust him. It’s hard to choose him. 

The calculation that Cunningham was the “chosen one” was made by party heavyweights in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who felt he was the safe bet over Smith, and so far, he’s raised more than $28 million in his bid to unseat Thom Tillis. Though we weren’t entirely sold on him, we bought into the argument of practicality in the primary and wagered on not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Too much is on the line—the future of democracy, Mitch McConnell’s chances of retaining Senate Majority Leader, and whether Republicans succeed in enshrining a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

Tillis is a Trump loyalist so diehard he’d do anything to please the president, including catching the coronavirus. On a policy level, he’s everything we stand against—a climate-change denier who has stood in the way of LGBTQ rights and wants to make it harder for women to have access to health care (see: abortion). But on a more basic level, he’s a spineless shill willing to throw principle out the door to kiss the party ring and maintain power. 

Even Cunningham can do better than that.

We’re not sure what Cunningham can do to win back the public’s trust, but we think radical honesty could go a long way. Take the public beating and instead of performing through it, try to learn something. And if you arrive in that seat in Washington, we invite you to shut up and listen to the women around you. Vote with them and for them. Keep that precious seat warm and count the days until you can pass it along to someone who deserves it. —LT

U.S. House District 2: Deborah Ross (D)

Read her candidate questionnaire here.

North Carolina’s District 2 is one of two that now lean Democratic in this latest iteration of our ever-changing electoral maps, so incumbent Republican Representative George Holding just decided to retire instead of running again. 

Deborah Ross—a former director of the state ACLU who served in the legislature for 10 years and ran as the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016—was a natural pick to run in the new district. Ross was a good legislator, and her politics are firmly in the mainstream of the Democratic Party, though she’s likely to be more progressive on civil liberties and civil rights issues given her experience.

Her Republican opponent, Alan Swain, is a retired veteran who worked in the Bush and Clinton administrations. He’s anti-choice, wants more money for cops, and says he’ll be a “strong advocate for school choice.” We’ll see what happens to this seat in 2021, but for now, Ross is a good choice to represent the district. —PB 

U.S. House District 4: David Price (D)

Read his candidate questionnaire here.

North Carolina Democratic Party heavyweight David Price faces a challenge from staunch Trump supporter Robert Thomas.

Price, 80, has been a member of the U.S. Congress for 31 years and represents a district covering much of Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough.

The son of two teachers, Price is a college professor who has authored four books and serves on the House appropriations and budget committees. The veteran lawmaker says education is a priority and that he has been a strong supporter of expanding Pell Grants, lower student-loan interest rates, and loan forgiveness. If re-elected, he will prioritize affordable housing and continue his efforts to create a more diverse and sustainable transportation system.

Thomas did not respond to the INDY questionnaire. According to his website, he supports the wall Trump wants to build on the Southern border and the Second Amendment. He says he’s running to subtract “one of Nancy Pelosi’s soldiers” from the House. This is an easy call for us—vote for Price, the pragmatic, experienced legislator. —TM

Click here to return to our list of endorsements.

Follow Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to ltauss@indyweek.com. Follow Durham Reporter Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to tmcdonald@indyweek.com. Follow freelance writer Paul Blest on Twitter or send an email to prjblest@gmail.com.

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.