Nominees Budd, Beasley turn focus to November

Ted Budd speaks to his supporters after winning the NC Primary US Senate race during the Ted Budd Primary night Parking the Biden-Agenda-Crusher in Victory Lane at the WinMock at Kinderton in Bermuda Run, NC on May 17, 2022. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

RALEIGH — Fresh off dominating wins in their respective party’s primaries Tuesday night, Democratic Party nominee Cheri Beasley and Republican nominee Ted Budd began targeting one another in statements, ads, and kicking off the general election for the state’s U.S. Senate seat.

Beasley celebrated in Raleigh with a who’s who of Democratic Party leaders, including Gov. Roy Cooper, at the state Democratic Party headquarters.

Democratic North Carolina Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaks at an election night event hosted by the North Carolina Democratic Party after winning her primary race in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Republican Ted Budd will face Beasley in North Carolina’s Senate race after both easily clinched primary victories Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

“North Carolina, I’m honored to be your nominee … the first African American woman to be your Democratic Senate nominee,” said Beasley Tuesday night.

“As North Carolina’s next U.S. Senator, Cheri will be an independent and fierce advocate for North Carolina and continue her work to provide opportunity for families across the state. North Carolina Democrats are proud to stand with Cheri as we work to do everything we can to flip this seat,” state Democratic Party chair Bobbie Richardson said in a statement.

In the final tally, Beasley took 81% of the vote statewide.

The Republican race also ended shortly after the first returns were announced. North State Journal called the race for Budd at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday night.

The primary win clinched a victory for the three-term Congressman in the race over two candidates who arguably started the race with more advantages. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker announced his run for the seat in December 2020. McCrory followed in early April, just a week before Budd earned the endorsement of 45th President Donald Trump at the NCGOP Convention two months later.

Budd rode that endorsement, a grassroots campaign visiting all 100 counties, and air cover from the conservative Club for Growth to over 58% of the vote.

He was joined at his election night party in Davie County by U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop.

Lt. Governor Mark Robinson speaks during the Ted Budd Primary night Parking the Biden-Agenda-Crusher in Victory Lane at the WinMock at Kinderton in Bermuda Run, NC on May 17, 2022. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

(NC-09) and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who delivered a critical endorsement of Budd at a rally in Johnston County in April.

“In this contested primary, there were many days my team struggled to stay ahead. But, thanks to your votes, donations, and getting the word out, we came out victorious. It is the honor of a lifetime to fight to represent our state in this general election,” said Budd Tuesday night.

With the race now on to November, the two nominees wasted no time drawing contrasts with one another. Budd also said in his remarks that Beasley was the most radical nominee for U.S. Senate in state history.

Beasley echoed a line from Budd’s primary opponents, calling Budd a “D.C. insider” while rolling out a quick endorsement from the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE).

“We have no doubt Cheri Beasley and our endorsed candidates will win the mid-term election this November and usher in a new era for North Carolina,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly. “An era focused on well-funded education and our children’s futures. We look forward to education being prioritized in the coming elections.”

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that Budd’s win paves the way for victories across the state.

Congratulations to Ted Budd and the rest of our North Carolina Republican nominees. North Carolinians are tired of Biden and Democrats’ 40-year high inflation, record-breaking gas prices, and weak on crime stances. The RNC’s multimillion-dollar investment in the Tar Heel State will propel North Carolina Republicans to victory come November,” said McDaniel.

The RNC said Tuesday night it has already trained and recruited more than 9,500 volunteers who have made more than 474,000 voter contacts for the November election.

The Carolina Partnership for Reform, a conservative nonprofit, conducted polling in a potential Budd vs. Beasley matchup going just before the primary.

Their poll, conducted by Meeting Street Insights, showed a close race: Budd at 44% and Beasley at 43%.

“Cheri Beasley, who did not have a serious primary contest, has a +16 net favorability rating. Budd, who battled former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker for months, sits at -4 net favorability. Unaffiliated voters sided with Budd 40%-34%, with 25% undecided,” a memo on the results said Wednesday.

Public polling earlier this month showed Budd ahead of Beasley. In a story published on May 12, a poll conducted by The Hill and Emerson College had a 7-point advantage for Budd, leading 48% to 41% over Beasley.