An endorsement by former President Donald Trump and $11 million from a conservative political interest group proved just the ticket for Ted Budd to win Tuesday the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
Budd, 50, defeated former Gov. Pat McCrory, former Rep. Mark Walker and 11 other Republicans, The Associated Press projected.
Budd will face former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley in the general election held on Nov. 8. The AP projected that Beasley, 55, won the Democratic nomination for Senate, becoming the first Black woman to do so in North Carolina.
The battle between Beasley and Budd, to represent North Carolina following the retirement of Sen. Richard Burr, is expected to be contentious and costly.
There’s a lot on the line.
Republicans hope to take back the majority in the Senate. North Carolina has not elected a Democrat to that chamber since 2008.
Budd led in polls
Budd’s lead Tuesday wasn’t a shock for those following his campaign closely.
Trump’s endorsement of Budd last June followed by the Club for Growth’s spending, supporting him and attacking moderate Republican McCrory, set him up for success.
Last Wednesday, an independent poll showed Budd at 43%.
Budd gathered around 90 supporters Tuesday night close to his home in Davie County. They met at WinMock at Kinderton, the site of a former tobacco estate turned event venue, set between Winston-Salem and Mocksville in Bermuda Run.
Two hours south of Budd’s victory party, McCrory held an event of his own at Selwyn Pub in Charlotte.
McCrory served 14 years as mayor of Charlotte before becoming a one-term governor of North Carolina in 2013. Despite being known for the controversial House Bill 2, which required transgender people in schools and other government buildings to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate, he became known as the most moderate Republican in the race.
Who is Ted Budd?
Budd is in his third term representing North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, which includes Davie County, where he grew up on a 300-acre cattle and commercial chicken farm.
Budd first ran in 2016 as a businessman — he owns a gun store and range in Rural Hall — and a political outsider. He said he wanted to bring the knowledge from his business into the U.S. Capitol.
Budd currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee, two subcommittees and a task force.
The Club for Growth took an instant liking to Budd and helped fund his 2016 campaign — and then all of his following campaigns.
Budd has aligned himself closely with Trump, and voted against certifying the election of President Joe Biden following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
He has appeared at Trump rallies and mimicked Trump’s flattery of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intelligence as he raided Ukraine, though Budd also says that Putin is “evil.”
Who is Cheri Beasley?
Beasley’s nomination came much easier than Budd’s.
The former Supreme Court chief justice went from having two fierce competitors in state Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Sen. Erica Smith to become the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party almost overnight.
In mid-December 2021, Jackson announced he would bow out of the race, just weeks after Smith made a similar announcement.
Both candidates went on to focus instead on U.S. House campaigns, leaving Beasley able to campaign without vitriol from opponents in her own party.
She held events, met with constituents and created campaign ads that introduced herself to North Carolinians.
Beasley is a trailblazer for Black women in North Carolina.
She’s the first Black woman to serve as N.C. Supreme Court chief justice and the first Black woman to be elected to a statewide office in North Carolina without first being appointed to the position by a governor.
She’s been a public defender, a District Court judge, a Superior Court judge and served on the N.C. Court of Appeals.
In 2020, Beasley lost her reelection bid to N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby by just 401 votes.
She has since then focused on her campaign for U.S. Senate.