Two weeks ago, we said we’d punt on our Democratic Senate endorsement until we released our feature on the race. It’s here, and the choice is no less difficult.
We want to believe in ERICA SMITH. We like so much about her: her perseverance, her indefatigable spirit, her energy, her sense of humor, her progressive politics, *the hope that she could appeal to women and African Americans.
But we also really want to beat Thom Tillis, a spineless Trump sycophant. And here Smith gives us pause. She can argue that raising less than $300,000 shows her independence, but in reality, she’s just not good at fundraising. Nor is she particularly good at running a statewide campaign.
If she wins the primary, she’ll owe that victory to Mitch McConnell, whose super PAC has funneled $3 million—more than 10 times what Smith has raised—into ads to prop her up. That says a lot about whom Tillis would rather face.
CAL CUNNINGHAM has the opposite problem. He has all the money in the world. And he’s, in some ways, a quintessential North Carolina Democrat: veteran, from a small-town, loves barbecue, more Buttigieg (for whom he voted) than Bernie. He is, in other words, fine. Not inspiring, but fine.
Folks in Durham might resent him for his work on the 751 South development, where he leaned on the General Assembly to force the city and county to approve the controversial project. But otherwise, he’s mostly nonthreatening. And, truth be told, he’s more likely to beat Tillis.
The question, then: Head or heart?
Tillis’s seat could determine whether McConnell is Senate Majority Leader next year—which, in turn, will determine the fate of Supreme Court picks, executive appointments, and key legislation. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
We’re endorsing Cunningham.
*Correction: This editorial originally stated that Erica Smith had won in a Republican-leaning state Senate district. That is incorrect.
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