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Sen. Thom Tillis wins re-election against Cal Cunningham in North Carolina

Sen. Thom Tillis (R) has won re-election against Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, AP projects.

Why it matters: Tillis' victory is a major win for Republicans as they fight to keep control of the U.S. Senate.


  • Tillis was first elected in 2014 and has branded himself as a loyal defender of President Trump.

Between the lines: Polls generally favored Cunningham, but both candidates were plagued by controversies in the run-up to the election.

  • Cunningham's polling lead took a hit in early October after he admitted to having an extramarital affair.
  • Tillis, meanwhile, faced criticism when he and several others tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a Rose Garden ceremony introducing Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Data: AP; Chart: Naema Ahmed, Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti/Axios

What they're saying: "While the results of this election suggest there remain deep political divisions in our state and nation, the more complete story of our country lies in what unites us: our faith and sense of confidence in our democracy, our civic values and common humanity, our shared aspiration to care for one another, and our belief that we live in a country that does exceptional things," Cunningham said in a statement conceding to Tillis.

Trump sets auction for Arctic refuge drilling rights before Biden takes office

The Interior Department on Thursday said it will auction oil drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in early January.

Why it matters: The procedural step would make it harder for President-elect Joe Biden to thwart drilling in the region, even though any actual development is years away.

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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney elected chair of House Democrats' campaign arm

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Thursday was elected chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2022 cycle, narrowly defeating Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) 119 to 107, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Maloney will be tasked with protecting House Democrats' slim majority in 2022 after they underperformed in November's election, losing seats in down-ballot races across the country.

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Vaccine shipment companies targeted by cyberattacks, IBM says

A global phishing campaign has been trying to gain information from organizations working to ship coronavirus vaccines since September, IBM's cybersecurity arm said on Thursday.

Why it matters: Successfully distributing a COVID vaccine will already be challenging for the U.S. and other wealthy countries, especially to rural areas with less resources — while poorer countries are expected to have delayed access.

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Fauci to meet with Biden transition for first time

The government's top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci will stay on at the National Institutes of Health and plans to meet virtually with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team to discuss the coronavirus response for the first time Thursday, he told CBS News.

Why it matters: Fauci, widely viewed as one of the country's most trusted voices on the coronavirus, said it will be the first "substantive" conversation between he and Biden's team. He said he has not yet spoken with Biden directly, but has connected several times with incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

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Trump weighs firing Barr over fraud comments and Durham delay

Attorney General Barr may be fired or resign, as President Trump seethes about Barr's statement this week that no widespread voter fraud has been found.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the president's thinking tells Axios that Trump remains frustrated with what he sees as the lack of a vigorous investigation into his election conspiracy theories.

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Trump's spy chief plans dire China warning as administration enters final days

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Thursday will publicly warn that China's threat to the U.S. is a defining issue of our time, a senior administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: It's exceedingly rare for the head of the U.S. intelligence community to make public accusations about a rival power.

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Tech's race problem is all about power

As problematic as the tech industry's diversity statistics are, activists say the focus on those numbers overlooks a more fundamental problem — one less about numbers than about power.

What they're saying: In tech, they argue, decision-making power remains largely concentrated in the hands of white men. The result is an industry whose products and working conditions belie the industry rhetoric about changing the world for the better.

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Mayors fear long-lasting effects of COVID-19

Data: Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. mayors tend to be an optimistic bunch, but a poll released Thursday finds them unusually pessimistic about prospects for post-pandemic recovery.

Why it matters: In a survey of mayors of 130 U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents, 80% expect racial health disparities to widen, and an alarming number predict that schools, transit systems and small businesses will continue to suffer through 2021 and beyond.

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