Ted Budd Claims North Carolina’s Open Senate Seat for Republicans

Ted Budd Claims North Carolina’s Open Senate Seat for Republicans
Republican Rep. Ted Budd smiles after voting at Farmington Baptist Church in Mocksville, N.C., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Republican Ted Budd has defeated Democrat challenger Cheri Beasley in North Carolina’s Senate race, giving his party a pickup in their fight to secure a majority in the upper chamber.

“I want to thank President Donald J Trump, North Carolina’s own Lara Trump, and the entire Trump family for everything that they are doing to make our country great again,” the three-term congressman said during his victory speech at Winston-Salem, his birthplace.

“I also want to take a moment and recognize my opponent, Justice Cheri Beasley,” Budd continued. “We spoke on the phone, and I want to thank her for her service to our state. We’ve been running a spirited race. And finally, I want to thank the people of North Carolina for delivering this victory tonight.”

Beasley kicked off Election Night with an overwhelming lead of nearly 180,000 votes, thanks to ballots cast during the early voting period. However, that margin started to crumble when the Election Day votes came in. When the race was finally called, with 95 percent of votes counted, Budd had overtaken Beasley by 134,864 votes, or 3.6 percent of all votes cast across the state.

The win puts both of the state’s Senate seats in the hands of Republicans—Budd and Thom Tillis, whose second term will last until 2026.

In the bid to make Beasley the first black woman in history to represent North Carolina in the Senate, the Democratic Party poured at least $13 million into the race, including a $4 million television ad campaign attacking Budd’s position on abortion.

Beasley trailed Budd in the polls for months until about mid-August, when Budd started to close the gap with Beasley and eventually took the lead. A former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Beasley’s campaign highlighted her commitment to promoting abortion as a right and how Budd, in favor of then-President Donald Trump, voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

Trump endorsed Budd early in the campaign and rallied for him in mid-September. Throughout his campaign trail, Budd never shied from associating with Trump, as he tried to convince North Carolinians that they can help bring back the Trump-era economy by voting for him.

“Let’s remember that President Trump won North Carolina twice,” Budd said at the Oct. 7 debate with Beasley. “And let’s remember what the economy was like other than this Biden—perhaps even Beasley if she were to win—economy, where we have 40-year inflation. Under President Trump, we had 1.4 percent inflation. We had record low unemployment.”

By contrast, Beasley had been distancing herself from members of the Biden administration. When Kamala Harris visited Durham in September, Beasley’s campaign told local news outlets that she would rather focus on her own activities than join any events with the vice president.

Budd’s victory is expected to build confidence among Republicans who see the contest in North Carolina as an early indicator for the 2024 presidential election. In 2016 and 2020, Trump carried the red-trending purple state and its 15 electoral votes by slight margins. Now with 16 electoral votes, North Carolina could be more pivotal to the Republican effort to retake the White House.

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