Last updated on October 15, 2019.
The deadline for filing for the March 3, 2020, primary is December 20, 2019. What follows is based on the latest information we have on candidates who have filed. (It is the position of the North Carolina Democratic Party to refrain from making endorsements until after the primary, when we formally endorse the winner. So, the information we include will not take a position in support of any candidates running for the Democratic nomination.)
Republican Thom Tillis currently holds the Senate seat up for election in 2020. He has two challengers in his primary: Sandy Smith and Garland Tucker, III. Smith has a varied professional life outside politics, lives on a farm in Ayden, and advertises herself as a Trump supporter. Tucker comes from the Art Pope side of the GOP, has served on the board of Civitas Institute and is a fellow at the John Locke Foundation. He, too, touts his policies as Trump-friendly. Because Tillis is being challenged from the right, he has vocally moved further in that direction himself.
When Tillis won in 2014 he did so without a majority, claiming 48.8% of the votes cast to 47.3% for Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan. Republican Burr won re-election in 2018 by a comfortable margin, but he had a reputation for being somewhat moderate, was running against an opponent with considerably less name recognition, and won by less than he did in 2010 against the popular Elaine Marshall.
Most early predictions for the seat are lean Republican, but vulnerable. The results will depend on voter turnout. The larger the turnout, the more likely it is that the seat will flip to Democrats. Bottom Line: this is a winnable election.
Current Democratic Candidates, in alphabetical order, Include:
Cal Cunningham – Cunningham is a military veteran, who saw service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He grew up in Lexington, earned his undergraduate and law degrees at UNC-Chapel Hill, and returned to Lexington to raise his family. He was first elected to statewide office at the age of 27, representing Davidson, Rowan, and Iredell Counties in the NC Senate. Cunningham currently lives in Raleigh with his wife and two children, leads an environmental services and waste reduction company, and is Vice-Chair of the Governor’s Crime Commission. See www.calfornc.com
Trevor Fuller – Fuller is currently serving his fourth term on the Mecklenburg County Commission and is a former chair of that body. Born in Buffalo, New York, Fuller received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and his law degree from Georgetown University. He is currently President of the Fuller Law Firm, P.C., married and has two children. See www.fullerfornorthcarolina.com
Atul Goel – Goel has lived in Raleigh for the past 30 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Clarkson University, his MD degree from New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and his master’s degree in business administration from East Carolina University. He served as an active duty flight surgeon in the Air Force, deploying twice to the Gulf, operated a solo family medicine practice in Raleigh, and has served as a medical consultant. He is married with two children. See https://atulgoelforsenate.com
Erica Smith – Smith earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T and an M.A. degree in religious studies from Howard University School of Divinity. She has worked as a Boeing engineer, as a patent examiner in Washington DC and as a high school math, physics and chemistry teacher. Smith is an ordained minister. She currently represents Senate District 3 in the North Carolina General Assembly. She has received recognition as the State Employee’s Association Freshman Legislator of the Year (2016), a Lillian’s List Political Courage Award winner (2017) and as the NC League of Conservation Voters Senator of the Year (2018). See https://ericaforus.com/
Eva Lee, a Raleigh tax attorney, originally filed to run against Tillis in 2017. She is now running for Secretary of Labor.
Helpful Hint: The Ballotpedia Internet Site (ballotpedia.org) is a good starting place for information about elections in general and specific races in particular.