Tillis and Cunningham Senate

Thom Tillis, left, via Wikimedia Commons. Cal Cunningham, right, via Wikimedia Commons.

North Carolina’s 2020 Senate race may end up being the most expensive Senate race in history, hotly contested between incumbent Republican Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. Tillis and Cunningham differ on many major issues, including health care, climate change and more. Here’s a cheat sheet with the two candidates’ views on some of the issues that matter most to college-aged students:


Tillis: his COVID-19 plan is extensive, stating that Congress should pass a bill giving liability protection to businesses that “implement best practice plans and take responsible actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” He argues for increasing the national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health equipment and strengthening domestic PPE manufacturing. 

For education, Tillis wants to assist child care centers financially to help them safely reopen, and to make sure schools do temperature screenings before allowing individuals into their facilities. Tillis supports remote learning for high-risk students and teachers, and encourages his constituents to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and wear masks.

Cunningham: wants to prioritize the establishment of national testing and contact tracing, headed by the CDC, while financially supporting companies working on vaccines. Cunningham wants New Deal-like national programs to create “hundreds of thousands” of jobs in rebuilding infrastructure and in public health.

In Cunningham’s reopening plan, he also states that he wants a task force that will look at racial disparities in both testing and diagnoses and use that information to improve the distribution of aid and supplies. Cunningham wants to support schools and argues all instruction should be done remotely, with federal financial support for budget deficits at all levels of education because of this.


Title IX/Sexual Assault

Tillis: signed onto a letter concerned with sexual assault and domestic violence being exacerbated due to COVID-19. The letter asked for more funding for a multitude of programs, including ones aimed at assisting abused parents and their children, tribes and tribal organizations.

Tillis voted to confirm U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s appointment in 2017. 

Cunningham: in an OP-ED published in the Daily Tar Heel, Cunningham said he would reinstate protections that DeVos rolled back. Cunningham also said in the OP-ED that he would strengthen Title IX enforcement.


Climate Change

Tillis: supports investing in solar energy, arguing against solar tariffs instituted by the Trump administration. Tillis wants a “market-driven” strategy for combating climate change. 

Cunningham: wants to focus on investing in clean energy, specifically solar energy. He also argues for passing legislation to reduce carbon pollution and protect the environment from pollution, like coal ash and GenX-tainted drinking water.


Health Care

Tillis: against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which he argues has caused premiums to “skyrocket.” He also believed “Medicare for All” would “bankrupt the country.” Tillis believes those with preexisting conditions should receive equal coverage, and is in favor of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a program for children who have families that cannot afford health care and do not qualify for Medicaid. 

Cunningham: wants to strengthen and expand coverage under the ACA, expanding Medicaid and keeping all current Medicare benefits. He also wants to have protections for people with preexisting conditions and disallow higher insurance costs for his older constituents. 


Racial Equality

Tillis: was a leading force in passing a 2011 bill that required those convicted of felonies in North Carolina to be supervised for nine to 12 months after their release. Tillis says the law has resulted in a 10.6% decrease in recidivism rates and saved hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. 

Tillis was against a 2020 House bill that would ban police use of chokeholds, no-knock warrants and reform qualified immunity among other police reforms.The bill passed in the House but has not received a vote on the Senate floor. Tillis’ preferred reforms were expanding use of body cameras and deescalation training.

Cunningham: called for a permanent task force to study and address “ongoing inequities” in health care, as well as ending redlining and helping minority-owned businesses receive funding in their communities. He also wants to reform the criminal justice system. Cunningham is for “revisiting” mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses, abolishing for-profit prisons and “curbing the abuse” of cash bail. He also has said marijuana should no longer be a schedule I drug, with states deciding its legality.

In the wake of the countless murders of unarmed Black men and women by police, Cunningham said he supported limiting qualified immunity, which gives police officers a level of protection against prosecution. He is for deescalation training, prohibiting chokeholds and limiting no-knock warrants. Cunningham also wants to “address the use of deadly force,” while still allowing officers to defend themselves.

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