A Republican has entered the race to replace Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) nearly two years before the election.
Burr, 65, has said he plans to retire after his current term.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) announced Tuesday he plans to run to fill the seat.
“When I was elected to Congress, I told our team: let’s do more than make an argument, let’s make a difference. My goal is to be a conservative warrior and a bridge-builder for all of our communities,” Walker said in an announcement video. “And that’s exactly what we did taking on the swamp. My prayer? That God would provide the people to be part of this journey.”
“I’m running for the United States Senate. The call serving others is my life. And I had the experience to fight and to win in Washington,” he added later. He said he opposes “radicals as well as the establishment.”
Walker released an endorsement from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and said he’s been endorsed by sheriffs throughout central North Carolina.
Walker’s current term in Congress is set to expire soon. He declined to run for another term in the House of Representatives after major redistricting and also passed on a challenge to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who narrowly won reelection this year.
No other candidates have announced plans to run for the seat that’s opening up in two years.
President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, rumored to be a potential candidate, did not rule out a bid last week.
Another potential candidate, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said recently that he has no plans on running for the seat.
Burr has been in office since 2005 and was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee before stepping down earlier this year because of stock trades he completed in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.
Burr said in 2016 that he would not seek a fourth term. “It’s real simple: I’m beginning to get old,” Burr told reporters at the time, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I still look forward to getting back into the private sector before retirement even comes into the picture. I never envisioned retiring out of the Congress.”