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Former North Carolina chief justice planning Senate run

Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) is laying the groundwork to jump into the Tarheel State’s open Senate race, which is expected to be among the most heavily contested of the 2022 midterms.

“I can tell you Chief Justice Beasley is in the process of putting together her run for early April for the United States Senate,” Conen Morgan, a North Carolina Democratic strategist familiar with the matter, told The Hill. “I’ve had conversations with folks close to her, and I can say that she’s actively taking the necessary steps to put on paper what it will look like for her run.”

A Senate bid would be the third statewide race for Beasley, who first won a seat on the state court of appeals in 2008 and was appointed to North Carolina’s Supreme Court in 2012. She won a full term for that seat in 2014 and was appointed as chief justice in 2019.

Beasley, 55, lost one of the closest races in the 2020 cycle, when she was unseated by Republican Paul Newby by just 401 votes. She ran ahead of now-President Biden in the state by about 11,000 votes in November.

“Chief Justice Beasley has already won two statewide elections in North Carolina previously, and she was just shy on this third one. So I believe her chances are very strong. She has shown what it takes to win statewide and understands what a hard race this will be to be able to crisscross the map across the state,” Morgan said.

Beasley joins former state Sen. Erica Smith, state Sen. Jeff Jackson and virologist Richard Watkins in what could become a crowded Democratic primary to try to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr (R), who is retiring after the end of his current term. 

Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.) has jumped into the race for the Republicans, though Lara Trump, daughter-in-law of former President Trump, is also reportedly mulling a bid.

Beasley, who is Black, would add a historical factor to the race. North Carolina has never elected an African American senator before, and the entire country has only ever elected two Black women to the upper chamber.

“I am excited about how diverse this field will be to reflect the citizens of North Carolina. And it’s an exciting time to see a woman step forward to serve in this role,” Morgan said.

Beasley’s campaign moves were first reported by The News & Observer.

While Republicans won the presidential and Senate races in North Carolina in November, the state continued to serve as a battleground. Biden lost the state by just 1.3 percentage points, and Sen. Thom Tillis (R) won reelection by under 2 points in what was at the time the most expensive Senate race in history. 

North Carolina is a lynchpin in Democrats’ strategy to keep and expand their control in the upper chamber. The party is targeting open seats there and in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have yet to announce if their run for reelection in their swing states.

Tags 2022 2022 midterms Cheri Beasley Chuck Grassley Conen Morgan Donald Trump Joe Biden Lara Trump Mark Walker North Carolina North Carolina Democrats Richard Burr Ron Johnson Thom Tillis

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