The race for the North Carolina Senate seat in 2022 is projected to be one of the most expensive in the country’s history.
Republican Sen. Richard Burr announced he would not be running for a fourth term in 2022, leaving the seat open.
It appears former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has been chosen to represent the Democratic Party on the ballot in November. Beasley’s chief rival, state Sen. Jeff Jackson, dropped out of the race, which will allow Beasley to save more of her campaign funds for the general election in November.
But the Republican Party has made no such decision and millions of dollars have already been spent by the two front runners, former Gov. Pat McCrory and 13th District Congressman Ted Budd. Former 6th District Congressman Mark Walker, who was the first to announce back in December 2020, is far behind in the polls and is reportedly considering dropping out of the Senate race to run for Congress. However, Walker is not likely to make that decision while the congressional districts are still up in the air. Lawsuits challenging the districts drawn by the Republican led NC legislature as being unconstitutionally partisan are currently before the NC Supreme Court. Until those cases are decided, it wouldn’t make sense for Walker to drop out of the Senate race. The NC Supreme Court already postponed the primary from March 8 to May 17 in order for those legal challenges to move forward.
However, the latest poll by Civitas shows McCrory, who was governor from 2012 to 2016, leading with 24 percent over Budd with 19 percent. Walker is a distant third with 7 percent.
As expected, both the McCrory and Budd campaigns claimed the poll showed they would win the primary.
The McCrory campaign because, obviously, the poll showed McCrory was still in the lead.
The Budd campaign pointed out that the poll showed McCrory’s support was going down while Budd’s support continued to grow. McCrory started out with a huge advantage in name recognition from running three statewide races for governor and winning one of those three.
Budd ran for office for the first time in 2016, when he won the crowded Republican primary in the 13th District and then won the general election. The Senate race is the first statewide effort for Budd, whose campaign got a big boost in June 2021, when Budd was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
The poll also showed that in a head-to-head race, Budd’s support rose to 34 percent, edging out McCrory at 33 percent, well within the margin of error, which is plus or minus 3.95 percent. Both Budd and Walker come from the conservative side of the Republican Party while McCrory is seen as a moderate. So it is no surprise that, as the poll indicates, Walker dropping out of the race would be more advantageous to Budd than McCrory.