clearn.png
Sunday September 25th, 2022 4:26AM

North Carolina Senate race tests Trump's endorsement power

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — When Ted Budd won a surprise endorsement from former President Donald Trump last year, he was a little-known congressman running for a Senate seat in North Carolina against some of the state’s most recognizable Republicans, including a former governor.

As he enters the final stretch before the state’s May 17 primary, Budd is again hoping for a boost, banking on the power of Trump’s endorsement to put him on top of a field that includes a dozen other Republicans.

“We feel we’ve got strong momentum,” Budd told The Associated Press. “Whether it’s grassroots, trend lines in polling or fundraising, we think we’re in a very good place.”

Budd’s candidacy will serve as an early test of whether Trump’s backing is powerful enough to lift someone from relative obscurity to the GOP nomination for a critical Senate seat. A strong showing by Budd could provide clues about how Trump-backed candidates in other states, including Georgia, that vote in quick succession after North Carolina, will fare.

The race “will be a test of the Trump effect on North Carolina among North Carolina Republicans, I think not just for North Carolina but nationally,” said Mike Rusher, a political consultant who previously worked for the state GOP.

Democrats have made inroads across the South in recent years, winning a presidential election in Georgia in 2020 for the first time in 28 years and picking up two Senate seats.

North Carolina has experienced similar demographic changes, driven by an influx of new residents to the Raleigh and Charlotte areas. But for now, Democrats have struggled to make the same progress in the state’s presidential and Senate races. Barack Obama was the last Democratic presidential contender to carry North Carolina in 2008, and a Democrat hasn’t won a Senate seat since Kay Hagan the same year.

Trump returned to the state on Saturday for a rally in rural Johnston County, just southeast of Raleigh, where he hyped Budd as “a great guy” and a “tremendous person.”

“Some people didn’t know him, but now they know him," he said.

Trump was a boon to North Carolina Republicans in the 2020 campaign, boosting turnout so that GOP candidates — with few exceptions — won races up and down the ballot even as Trump himself only narrowly eked out a win.

Budd is running for retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr's seat against former Gov. Pat McCrory, who is viewed as a moderate and has kept some distance from Trump while backing his economic policies. A dozen other Republicans are also seeking the nomination, including former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who has resisted Trump's entreaties to drop out.

The winner is expected to take on presumptive Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, in November's general election. Like nearly all statewide races, the general election should be close, and a Democratic victory could thwart GOP hopes of retaking the Senate majority.

While McCrory entered the race as its best-known candidate, Budd and his advisers are increasingly optimistic that his position is strengthening in the race’s final weeks.

Budd credited Trump’s endorsement as “the single biggest factor to help advance and get attention on this campaign.” He has also benefited from millions of dollars in super PAC spending on his behalf, including from the Club for Growth's political wing. The group's ads heavily feature Trump's endorsement, casting Budd as a reliable conservative while highlighting McCrory's past criticism of the former president and slamming him as a “disloyal, liberal loser."

McCrory became governor in 2013 but lost reelection after he signed a “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people that cost the state billions.

Saturday's rally comes amid questions over whether Trump's influence is fading amid stumbles in other states. Last month, he withdrew his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks, who was struggling to gain traction in Alabama's Senate primary. Last year, his endorsed candidate in Pennsylvania's Senate race, Sean Parnell, dropped out amid allegations of abuse by his estranged wife.

As aides have warned that he is setting himself up for failure by offering too many endorsements, Trump has held off picking sides in several competitive Senate contests, including in Missouri and Ohio, where early voting is underway.

Seeing Walker as a potential spoiler, Trump has tried to no avail to pressure him to leave the race — a tactic he has used successfully in other contests to bolster his favored candidates' chances.

The top vote-getter must garner more than 30% of the vote to avoid a runoff. Otherwise, the top two finishers advance to a runoff in late July.

“Look, we appreciate President Trump and the work that he did for our country, but it doesn’t mean that he makes the right decisions and sometimes he gets bad counsel,” Walker said in an interview. “And in this particular incident, he has hitched his wagon to the wrong horse.”

McCrory, meanwhile, dismissed polling out this week suggesting he had lost his early edge, saying there’s time for a counterattack.

“This race is going to be a dead heat. It’s neck and neck right now, and it’s amazing that we’re even in that position, considering $7 to $8 million have been spent against us from a special interest group in D.C.,” McCrory said in an unnamed reference to Club for Growth Action.

Many voters have yet to make up their minds, with early in-person voting beginning April 28.

John Dismukes, 48, of Carolina Beach describes himself as "100% undecided." "I’m looking at all three of them,” he said.

Billy Shomaker, a retired commercial pilot from Beech Mountain, said he supports Budd regardless of Trump's endorsement. “I like President Trump. I don’t like everything he does,” said Shomaker, 68.

Trump’s preferred candidates in North Carolina haven’t always been successful. In 2020, political newcomer Madison Cawthorn comfortably won a GOP congressional primary runoff over Trump's pick.

But Trump soon embraced Cawthorn, who won the general election at age 25 and became one of the ex-president’s strongest supporters. Now, Trump is returning the favor, featuring him as a rally speaker and endorsing him for reelection even as Cawthorn has faced backlash over recent incendiary comments.

McCrory said he had other events to attend Saturday and wouldn’t have shared the stage with Budd, Cawthorn or Trump even if offered.

Trump “says I don’t represent his values,” McCrory said, referencing the former president’s words when he endorsed Budd 10 months ago. “I agree with the policies of Trump. But yeah, we maybe have different opinion on values.”

___

Colvin reported from New York.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, General Senate Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Jackson, COVID and a retirement show Congress' partisan path
A milestone Supreme Court confirmation that endured a flawed process
12:16AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Peralta's single in 8th ends no-hit bid by San Diego Padres
Arizona’s David Peralta has lined a leadoff single in the eighth inning, ending another no-hit bid by the San Diego Padres
12:13AM ( 10 minutes ago )
North Carolina Senate race tests Trump's endorsement power
When Ted Budd won a surprise endorsement from former President Donald Trump last year, he was a little-known congressman running for a Senate seat in North Carolina against some of the state’s most recognizable Republicans, including a former governor
12:08AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Missile kills at least 52 at crowded Ukrainian train station
Ukrainian authorities say a missile hit a train station where thousands of Ukrainians had gathered
11:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
Whitmer kidnap plot: 2 men acquitted, hung jury for 2 more
Jurors have acquitted two defendants of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer but couldn't agree on a verdict for two others
10:51PM ( 1 hour ago )
CNN: Trump Jr. text shows ideas to overturn 2020 election
Donald Trump Jr. texted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows two days after the 2020 presidential election with strategies for overturning the result if Trump’s father lost
9:04PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
Live Updates | Augusta National shows its teeth in Masters
.Augusta National is showing its teeth at this year’s Masters. Rain on the eve of the tournament softened the greens but the golf course has been anything but receptive for the world’s best players. A few course tweaks and some gusty winds made things difficult as the scores and cutline edged higher in Friday’s second round.
5:28PM ( 6 hours ago )
Police official on leave amid probe over Ronald Greene death
The head of the Louisiana State Police put his second-in-command on leave Friday while he faces an internal probe into the erasing of his cellphone data amid the investigation into the deadly 2019 arrest of Black motorist Ronald Greene
5:20PM ( 7 hours ago )
Test taker gets prison; coach convicted in admissions scam
A former Florida prep school administrator has been sentenced to prison and a University of Southern California water polo coach has been convicted in the long running college admissions bribery scandal
5:11PM ( 7 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
CNN: Trump Jr. text shows ideas to overturn 2000 election
Donald Trump Jr. texted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows two days after the 2000 presidential election with strategies for overturning the result if Trump’s father lost
9:00PM ( 3 hours ago )
Liberal, conservative face off in California US House fight
The contest to replace former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes in California will present voters with a sharply defined choice: the candidates are a progressive Democrat who supports universal health care and a former Trump administration appointee
8:51PM ( 3 hours ago )
Kentucky governor vetoes proposed 15-week abortion ban
Kentucky's Democratic has vetoed a Republican-backed measure to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy
7:17PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Law reduced prison time for man tied to Sacramento shooting
Officials say a suspect arrested in connection with Sunday’s mass shooting near the California state Capitol would likely still be in prison if not for corrections officials’ use of sentencing credits authorized by voters in 2016
12:42PM ( 11 hours ago )
Live Updates | Ruble on mend, Russia bank cuts interest rate
Russia’s central bank says it’s lowering a key interest rate, and said more cuts could be on the way
11:16AM ( 13 hours ago )
Jackson confirmation takes Biden political story full circle
It’s a moment 46 days and more than 46 years in the making
10:53AM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Appeals court OKs Biden federal employee vaccine mandate
A federal appeals court has upheld President Joe Biden’s requirement that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19
7:49PM ( 1 day ago )
Jackson confirmed as first Black female high court justice
The Senate has confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, shattering a historic barrier by securing her place as the first Black female justice and giving President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his effort to diversify the court
5:21PM ( 1 day ago )
Abortion rights backers block 'trigger' law in Nebraska
Abortion rights supporters have scored a surprising victory in Nebraska, derailing a bill that would have automatically outlawed abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns its Roe v
4:27PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
Macron confident as far-right rival closes in ahead of vote
President Emmanuel Macron says he has no fear of losing France’s presidential election despite far-right rival Marine Le Pen narrowing the gap in opinion polls days before the first-round vote
2:35PM ( 9 hours ago )
Poland, France trade barbs over Russia's war on Ukraine
Poland has summoned the French ambassador over recent comments by President Emmanuel Macron who called Poland’s prime minister a “far-right anti-Semite” in a budding feud over Russia’s war on Ukraine
2:09PM ( 10 hours ago )
Why this week's French elections matter to the wider world
With war singeing the European Union's eastern edge, French voters will make a choice in a presidential election that will have an impact beyond the country's borders
8:36AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Elections
Ex-Trump appointee advances in California US House election
Former Trump administration appointee Connie Conway has advanced to a June runoff in a California special election to fill a U.S. House seat left vacant after Republican Rep. Devin Nunes resigned to lead former President Donald Trump’s media company
2:23AM ( 2 days ago )
Ex-lawmaker in lead for House seat left by Trump ally Nunes
Preliminary returns show a former Republican legislative leader taking an early lead in a California special election to fill a U.S. House seat left vacant after Republican Rep. Devin Nunes resigned to lead former President Donald Trump’s media company
12:34AM ( 2 days ago )
Analysis: 3 GOP senators buck party to back Biden court pick
Three Republican senators are breaking from their party to support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic nomination to the Supreme Court
12:09AM ( 3 days ago )
General Election News
Macron leads polls but turnout a big question in French vote
French President Emmanuel Macron is the clear favorite in the country's presidential vote on Sunday
2:44AM ( 2 days ago )
Wins for pro-Putin leaders buttress autocracies in Europe
Parliamentary elections in Hungary and Serbia brought landslide wins for the two countries’ longtime, pro-Putin leaders — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
11:02AM ( 4 days ago )
Live updates | Russia's Putin hails allies on election wins
Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated the Moscow-friendly leaders of Hungary and Serbia on winning elections
7:59AM ( 4 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Lamb revives gun incident to attack Fetterman in Senate race
Conor Lamb is accusing rival John Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate of skipping candidate forums to avoid talking about a 2013 incident in which he confronted a Black man, shotgun in hand, because he suspected the man was involved in gunfire nearby
2:15PM ( 1 week ago )
GOP's Senate campaign chief won't back down from party fight
Florida Sen. Rick Scott is barely halfway through his first term, but he's already leaning into a fight against his own party’s leadership
3:07PM ( 1 week ago )
Greitens accusations revive GOP worries about Senate bids
Accusations that Missouri Senate Republican candidate Eric Greitens physically assaulted members of his family have added fresh urgency to a GOP push to ensure the party doesn’t nominate candidates who are so damaged that they put otherwise safe seats in play
6:05PM ( 2 weeks ago )
General Senate Election News
Live updates | Moldova pleads for international support
The prime minister of Moldova says the poor eastern European nation needs major international support to cope with the influx of people fleeing neighboring Ukraine
6:19AM ( 3 days ago )
Live updates | Italy expels 30 Russian diplomats
The Italian Foreign Ministry says Italy is expelling 30 Russian diplomats
5:45AM ( 3 days ago )
Live updates | Ukraine: civilian ship sinking in Mariupol
Ukraine says a civilian ship is sinking in the port of the besieged city of Mariupol after Russian forces fired on it
5:10AM ( 3 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Jackson, COVID and a retirement show Congress' partisan path
A milestone Supreme Court confirmation that endured a flawed process
12:16AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Peralta's single in 8th ends no-hit bid by San Diego Padres
Arizona’s David Peralta has lined a leadoff single in the eighth inning, ending another no-hit bid by the San Diego Padres
12:13AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Doncic has 39 points, 11 rebounds, 16th tech in Mavs' win
Luka Doncic had 39 points, 11 rebounds and his 16th technical foul of the season for the Dallas Mavericks in a 128-78 win over the Portland Trail Blazers
12:06AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Rachel Balkovec cheered, wins debut managing Yanks affiliate
Rachel Balkovec was a winner as the first woman to manage a minor league affiliate of a Major League Baseball team
12:02AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Jackson's speech highlights US race struggles, progress
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's speech at the White House went to the heart of both the triumphs and struggles of Black Americans in her lifetime
12:02AM ( 22 minutes ago )