Trump affirms support for Budd in US Senate primary

Former President Donald Trump, right, announces his endorsement of N.C. Rep. Ted Budd, left, for the 2022 North Carolina U.S. Senate seat as he speaks at the North Carolina Republican Convention Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

RALEIGH – Former President Donald Trump affirmed he was still backing U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in the state’s Republican U.S. Senate primary following reports over the weekend he was wavering on his support of the three-term conservative. 

“Ted Budd, who I endorsed many months ago for the U.S. Senate, is now leading the pack in North Carolina. He is the true America First fighter who stands strong for the Second Amendment, fights for our great Military and Law Enforcement, and has tremendous courage fighting against the Woke Mob who wants to destroy America,” said Trump in an email on Monday evening from his Save America PAC. 

The emails, which often take the form of how the 45th President would tweet before he was banned from the platform, give a window into topics Trump is following. 

Over the past several days, reports from Politico indicated that Trump was regretting some endorsements and weighed “dual endorsements” in some races. Politico said that Budd was struggling in polls, although the publicly available polling tells a different story. 

Former Gov. Pat McCrory’s advantage since entering the race in April has all but evaporated, and two recent polls show the race between McCrory and Budd in a statistical dead heat. 

A pair of surveys released earlier this month show that while McCrory holds small leads, the margins between him and Budd have shrunk significantly from earlier in the primary. 

In a poll released by McCrory’s campaign team, the former Gov. leads by a 30% to 21% margin in a multi-candidate race, but he trails 34% to 33% in a head-to-head matchup.  

The second poll, released by the conservative John Locke Foundation, shows a five-point gap in the race with McCrory ahead 24% to 19%. Budd also leads McCrory in net favorability in that poll by an eight-point margin. 

Trump added, “I am proud of him, and he is going to win big. Ted Budd is the ONLY U.S. Senate candidate in North Carolina who has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” 

The renewed message from Trump also comes during a time when the dance from former U.S. Rep Mark Walker on whether he would depart from the race is expected to reach its conclusion. 

For over a month, Walker has publicly appeared to signal he was interested in dropping his Senate bid and running for a Piedmont-centric congressional seat with Trump’s support, only to back away and then go on a media tour saying he was still “fully engaged” in the Senate race. Notably, he lobbed broadsides at Budd during the tour, at times teaming up with McCrory to criticize his one-time colleague. 

Walker is expected to make an announcement in Greensboro on Thursday on his final decision as McCrory and Budd both eye a battle between the two of them.