Trump-backed Budd wins North Carolina Senate primary
Rep. Ted Budd on Tuesday was projected to clinch the Republican Senate nomination in North Carolina, overcoming a challenge from former Gov. Pat McCrory and handing former President Trump a major win in a critical battleground state.
The Associated Press called the race at 7:47 p.m. ET.
Trump endorsed Budd, a three-term congressman, last summer in a move that came as a surprise to many Republicans. That support kicked off a steady climb in the polls for Budd, who managed to galvanize the support of North Carolina GOP voters in recent months and emerge as the primary’s front-runner.
There were other forces working in Budd’s favor. The conservative Club for Growth, one of the most influential players in Republican primaries, spent some $11 million to boost Budd, helping him overcome relatively low name ID and lagging fundraising early on in the campaign.
McCrory, meanwhile, suffered from repeated attacks by the Club for Growth and Trump, who railed against the former governor as a “RINO,” or Republican in name only.
Another candidate, former Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), lagged behind both Budd and McCrory in the polls for months. At one point, Trump sought to lure him out of the race by promising an endorsement if he ran for his old House seat, though Walker refused that offer and vowed to continue on with his Senate campaign.
The GOP Senate primary in North Carolina is one of several tests this year of the resiliency of Trump’s influence among Republican voters in his post-presidency. A loss for Budd in the race would have likely dealt a serious blow to the former president’s reputation as a kingmaker among Republicans, especially as he weighs a 2024 comeback bid for the White House.
With the nomination locked up, Budd will go on to face Democrat Cheri Beasley, a former state Supreme Court justice, in the November general election to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
While North Carolina has tilted to the right in recent years — Trump carried the state twice, albeit by relatively narrow margins — Democrats see Burr’s Senate seat as one of a few that they have a chance of flipping this year as they look to hold their paper-thin Senate majority.
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