Trump-Endorsed Candidate Surges to Top of North Carolina GOP Senate Primary

Trump-Endorsed Candidate Surges to Top of North Carolina GOP Senate Primary
Ted Budd, who is running for U.S. Senate, speaks before a rally for former President Donald Trump at The Farm at 95 in Selma, North Carolina, on April 9, 2022. (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C), endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is now widening his lead in North Carolina’s Senate race, according to a recent poll.

A survey by Raleigh News & Observer on April 24 showed that Budd’s lead has expanded by the double digits. The result now makes him the clear frontrunner ahead of former Gov. Pat McCrory, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, and political newcomer Marjorie Eastman, who are all bidding to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr.

Budd said Trump's endorsement, clearly shown during an April 9 rally by the former president in Johnston County, has played a role in putting him on top of the field.

The candidate, in an interview with CBS 17 on April 25, said, “My style is distinctly North Carolinian. But the reason he [Trump] endorsed me is because I never wavered on the America first policies.”

The Davie County native has also benefited from a super PAC's commitment to storm airwaves and mailboxes to help him secure the ticket in the May 17  Republican primary.

The PAC, Club for Growth Action, has announced its plans to spend $14 million on activity in the North Carolina primary, praising Budd and attacking McCrory.

The group said in its FEC filing that it had already spent $4.7 million on independent activities in the race as of February.

McCrory has accused the Washington-based organization of essentially buying support for Budd.

In response to his opponent’s criticism, Budd reasoned that he had garnered support from those PAC groups due to his stance on some macro policies including lower taxes, economic growth, job creation, and reduced regulation for small businesses.

“I'm for those things, and it seems like that's why those groups would want to support me,” he told CBS 17.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has also endorsed Budd, calling him a “principled and proven conservative,” while casting McCrory as too liberal.

Robison said he would pivot his support to Budd as “Patt is no conservative.”

The state’s ex-governor and other primary rivals have also criticized Budd for skipping televised debates. Eastman, McCrory and Walker will reportedly compete in a live GOP debate Wednesday evening on Spectrum News 1.

Trump declared that Budd had his “complete and total endorsement” last June in his address to the state GOP convention in Raleigh.

In the lead-up to the May primary, Budd has campaigned in about 80 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and plans to cover the rest before the May 17 primary.

Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master's degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.