Democratic US Senate hopefuls report second quarter fundraising totals

Former N.C. Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley and state Sen. Jeff Jackson are featured in this combination photo. File

RALEIGH – The reports are in from the candidates running in the state’s 2022 U.S. Senate Democratic primary.

Former state Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley raised $1.26 million. That amounts bests state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who raised just over $700,000. In his first quarter report, Jackson raised $1.3 million. He entered the race on January 26.

Beasley said of her totals, “I’m so grateful for all of the support and enthusiasm we’re seeing across NC. For too long, our senators have been more focused on their own self-interest than serving our state. Together we’ll make that happen.”

Jackson’s amount is half of what he raised in the first quarter, but insisted, “We’re seeing real momentum behind the movement we’re building, and we’re overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from folks across the state,” in a release from his campaign.

Jackson leads Beasley with the amount of available cash on hand, edging her slightly. Those totals, though, show Jackson spending at a much higher rate than Beasley.

Former state Sen. Erica Smith and the remaining announced Democratic candidates did not approach the type of fundraising of Beasley and Jackson, who may turn fire on one another soon.

Beasley appears to be the favorite among prominent Democrats, racking up a stunning number of endorsements from both state and national figures.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand endorsed Beasley on July 8 and that was followed by U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12) and a slew of elected Democrats across the state, many of which serve with Jackson in the General Assembly.

In perhaps another sign of who the state’s Democratic establishment favors, Dory MacMillan, a former aide to Gov. Roy Cooper, has moved to Beasley’s campaign. Cooper elevated Beasley to chief justice over senior associate justice Paul Newby in 2019.

Jackson, a state senator, has made his “100-county” tour the centerpiece of his campaign along with a significant social media presence that the Washington Post described as “inspired by Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 run in Texas.”

Smith is also touring all 100 counties, but similar to her 2020 campaign against Cal Cunningham, she finds herself behind the leading candidates. On Thursday she took a shot at the frontrunners in the race, saying, “Our campaign isn’t propped up by DC or funded by the wealthy and well-connected. Our people-powered movement is centered on working people,” she wrote on Twitter.

In a recent interview, Smith called herself the most progressive Democrat in the race. In the quarter she raised a total of $113,000 but spent more than she raised, leaving her with just $55,000 on hand.

Rett Newton, who like Jackson is a white male, reported raising $95,000 in the race, placing him fourth in the primary field.

Richard Watkins, a Durham virologist, raised $26,000 in the quarter.