RALEIGH — U.S. Rep. Ted Budd outraised former Gov. Pat McCrory in the final quarter of 2021, boosting his bid in the highly competitive Republican U.S. Senate primary, which increasingly looks like a two-way battle.
Budd added nearly $1 million in the final three months of the year, topping McCrory by $200,000. McCrory’s campaign reported a total of $745,000. Both candidates entered 2022 with similar cash-on-hand figures.
“My campaign has been leading in the polls and in grassroots organization, and now we’re leading in fundraising,” said Budd in a statement. “NASCAR is starting again in just a few weeks, and I’ve got what every NASCAR driver wants, all the momentum and a clear path to Victory Lane. Amy Kate and I appreciate everyone who has invested in a better tomorrow by supporting our fight for America First policies that protect and promote American jobs.”
Elsewhere in the field, newcomer candidate Marjorie K. Eastman, who has invested heavily in digital advertising, reported a total amount raised of $423,000. That is more than twice the amount U.S. Rep. Mark Walker reported.
Walker, who eschewed an endorsement from former President Donald Trump to run for a U.S. House seat, instead remaining in the Senate race, reported $145,000 and spent more than he raised during the period, distributing $179,000. He entered the new year with $571,000 on hand.
The four candidates have ramped up activity – and attacks – as the race steadily attracts more attention statewide.
Walker has been the most visible, often teaming with McCrory to go after Budd’s support from the Club for Growth, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative nonprofit.
Walker and McCrory both accuse Club for Growth of “owning” Budd in return for their support.
“Ted Budd is a proven and principled conservative with a record who has the support of President Trump – the choice is clear,” said Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh last month.
Both McCrory and Walker have also criticized Budd for his refusal to commit to a statewide televised debate.
The Budd campaign has been undeterred by the attacks.
The campaign said that January was their most successful month yet, announcing a monthly fundraising total of $400,000.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but my January numbers confirm that we’ve got the momentum to win and we are only accelerating,” said Budd on Feb. 1.
The McCrory campaign, meanwhile, has seen their fundraising decline in each successive quarter.
In July’s report, his first of the race, McCrory reported $1.23 million in contributions. In October’s report, that slipped to just over $1 million, followed by the $745,000 amount in the year-end report.
That prompted a tweet from national politics reporter Josh Kraushaar, who said, “Yikes. Weak numbers for a former governor,” after the result was posted.
Fundraising is not the determinative measure of the primary but does provide indications of support. For Republicans, the answer is still a split decision.
In contrast, state Democrats have lined up behind former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley to clear the field of serious contenders.
Beasley racked up nearly $2.8 million in the quarter, aided by the departure of state Sen. Jeff Jackson in December.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper officially endorsed Beasley in January, saying, “As someone who knows what it takes to win, I can tell you Cheri’s got it. She’s honest and trustworthy and she’ll put in the hard work necessary to fight for the people of North Carolina,” in a video for the former chief justice.
With her major opponents out of the race, Beasley will have an opportunity to consolidate support from her party – and prepare for what is a perennially expensive endeavor – competing in a U.S. Senate election in North Carolina.