North Carolina U.S. Senate preview: Tillis faces 3 challengers

(The Center Square) – North Carolina incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is being challenged by Democrat Cal Cunningham, the Constitution Party’s Kevin Hayes and Libertarian Shannon Bray in the November election.

Tillis was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and served as a state representative for eight years before that. He was the speaker of the House from 2011-2015.

Cunningham, an attorney who also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, served in the North Carolina Senate from 2001-2003 and as vice chairman of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Crime Commission.

Hayes’ background includes owning a computer repair business and corporate, financial, education and retail information technology work. Bray works for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Center Square sent all four candidates an election questionnaire, giving each candidate an opportunity to communicate where they stand on some of the issues the country faces.

Tillis was the only candidate to respond to these questions posed by The Center Square:

What is your view of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and what position would you take on it if elected?

Tillis: Believes the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made the U.S. more competitive globally and put money back into Americans’ pockets, leaving them better prepared to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Tillis, who says he was proud he helped make the act law, believes the act created more jobs for North Carolinians, led to record-low unemployment in the U.S. for women and minorities and led to an economy where blue-collar workers saw wage growth that outpaced their bosses.

Cunningham: Did not respond to the questionnaire. In a candidate questionnaire published by the weekly newspaper Indy Week in February, Cunningham says the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act fueled the growing income and wealth inequality by benefiting the largest corporations and the ultra-wealthy while leaving middle-class and poor families behind.

Hayes: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Bray: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

What other tax policies do you support? Would you vote to raise taxes? Explain.

Tillis: Believes the way to lift North Carolina out of a recession is by lowering taxes and decreasing regulatory burdens, not taking more money out of North Carolinians’ paychecks. Tillis points to his time as speaker of the North Carolina House, when, he says, “the pro-growth policies we implemented turned North Carolina into one of the fastest-growing states in the nation.” Tillis says he has a record of cutting taxes and standing against tax increases.

Cunningham: Did not respond to the questionnaire. In February’s Indy Week questionnaire, Cunningham says he opposes tax policies “that shower benefits on the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else.” He says he would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit so they benefit more families.

Hayes: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Bray: Did not respond to the questionnaire. In a candidate questionnaire published by the weekly newspaper Indy Week in February, Bray says he has a problem raising taxes “when we do not know where the money is going and how long I have to pay for it.”

The federal budget deficit and national debt have grown at record paces during the COVID-19 pandemic. How concerned are you about both, and what policies would you support to reduce debt and the recurring budget deficits?

Tillis: Says he has been vocal about curbing the national debt and has voted against budgets he believes spent too much money since he’s been in the U.S. Senate. Tillis says the country can’t lose sight of its debt crisis while responding to the health and economic crisis, which is why he opposes the HEROES Act. Tillis characterizes the HEROES Act as a liberal wishlist, with many items having nothing to do with COVID-19, including funding to bail out blue states for their financial mismanagement.

Cunningham: Did not respond to the questionnaire. Cunningham says he does not fully support the HEROES Act because it does not go far enough, and he believes state and local governments are in need of additional federal funding to stay afloat.

Hayes: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Bray: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

What national health care policies do you support and, if they increase costs, how would you pay for them?

Tillis: Says Republicans and Democrats agree Obamacare isn’t working and supports replacing it with “a market-based solution that lowers cost, expands choice, allows individuals to be covered by their parents’ plan up to the age of 26 and ensures protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.” While in the Senate, Tillis says he’s worked to protect those with pre-existing conditions through the Protect Act. He says he never would support a government takeover of the health care system that takes coverage away from Americans happy with their insurance through their employer.

Cunningham: Did not respond to the questionnaire. On his campaign website, Cunningham says he “will fight to strengthen and extend coverage under the Affordable Care Act, expand Medicaid in North Carolina, create a public health insurance option, support rural hospitals, address doctor shortages, support life-saving research to prevent and treat diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS, and ensure no one loses their employer-sponsored coverage who wants to keep it.”

Hayes: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Bray: Did not respond to the questionnaire. In February’s Indy Week questionnaire, Bray says he supports the “Medicare for All Who Want it Plan” and would pay for it by rolling back President Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts.

What national energy policies do you support?

Tillis: Says the U.S. must continue to develop and expand clean and renewable energy, and he’s a longtime supporter of the solar industry. Tillis says he supports more energy independence and resiliency for military installations because renewable energy sources protect and advance the country’s national security. “As long as I’m in the U.S. Senate, I will continue to work across the aisle to find market-driven solutions to increasing our nation’s renewable energy,” Tillis said.

Cunningham: Did not respond to the questionnaire. On his campaign website, Cunningham says “we need to invest in a clean energy economy that will create good-paying jobs, reduce carbon pollution.” He, too, is a supporter of solar energy.

Hayes: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Bray: Did not respond to the questionnaire. He told Indy Week in February, “I believe in clean and green energy.”

What would be your role as a U.S. Senator in upholding the U.S. Constitution and preserving democracy?

Tillis: Says, “I work every day to protect the rights and freedoms of every person from our great state, and as long as I am a Senator, I will safeguard our American democracy by defending North Carolinians from higher taxes and government overreach. I will also continue to confirm well-qualified judges who follow the Constitution and do not legislate from the bench.”

Cunningham: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Hayes: Did not respond to the questionnaire. In a WAVY-TV candidate profile, Hayes says, “One of the challenges I think we face in North Carolina is a lack of leadership that will follow the Constitution. We need someone who will work for all the people of North Carolina and protect their Constitutional rights. I will never support any bill that will trample on the Constitutional rights of the citizens of North Carolina.”

Bray: Did not respond to the questionnaire.

By Jason Schaumburg | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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