Five Dems now vying for Burr’s seat

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the nomination Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be labor secretary on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)

BEAUFORT — The mayor of a small North Carolina coastal town is getting into next year’s race for the U.S. Senate, joining four other known candidates. 

Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton plans to announce his bid for the Democratic nomination in early April, the Carteret County News-Times reported. Republican Sen. Richard Burr has said he won’t seek reelection in 2022.

Newton, a retired Air Force colonel and current doctoral student at Duke University studying marine science and conservation, would join a growing pool of announced candidates, particularly among Democrats.

“We have such great national challenges that I just can’t sit on the sideline, certainly not when our democracy is under attack,” he told the newspaper in an interview. “I am committed to running for the U.S. Senate in 2022.”

Newton was first elected mayor of Beaufort in 2017. His tenure has been marked by the region’s recovery following Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Dorian.

Former state Sen. Erica Smith, current state Sen. Jeff Jackson and virologist Richard Watkins are among those already in the Democratic primary race. Advisers of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley said this month that she’ll soon enter the race. 

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is running for the Republican nomination, with Lara Trump and current U.S. Rep. Ted Budd both rumored to be considering bids. Party primaries are scheduled for March 2022.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.