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Tillis, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins North Carolina Senate Race

Raleigh, NC, Nov. 10 – Incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis has won a hotly contested race to continue representing North Carolina in the U.S. Senate, beating Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham.

Tillis completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Cunningham, in his attempt to unseat Sen. Tillis, also completed the RespectAbility questionnaire. 

According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of North Carolinians with disabilities is 1,351,169, making up 13.3 percent of the total state population. 2018 employment data shows that there are 680,863 working-age people with disabilities living in North Carolina. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 239,666 of those North Carolinians had a job and the Tarheel State had a disability employment rate of 35.2 percent.

“Clearly, connecting with voters with disabilities is a winning strategy,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “We congratulate Sen. Tillis and look forward to working with him and his team on a wide range of issues so that together we can build an inclusive economy where people with disabilities can have the dignity and income of work, just like anyone else.”

One-in-five Americans have a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, America has 61 million people with disabilities. Further, Rutgers University found that there were more than 38 million eligible voters with disabilities in the 2020 election. Polling conducted early in the election season showed that the disability community is a large and electorally contested voting bloc. As such, the victory of candidates such as Sen. Tillis who made a special effort to connect with voters in the disability community proves that the disability community can be a key pool of voters in tight electoral contests.   

RespectAbility reached out to candidates for President, Governor and U.S. Senate, requesting they complete the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire on key topics ranging from employment, education, criminal justice, healthcare and more. On the presidential level, President-Elect Joe Biden filled out the full questionnaire. Despite numerous requests by phone and email, President Donald Trump did not. 

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2020 candidates.  

Published in2020 CampaignRepublicansSenate

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