Former NC Gov., Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory Running For Senate
Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he's running for the U.S. Senate in 2022.
The Republican, Charlotte's longest-serving mayor before being elected governor in 2012, said in a video posted to a campaign site that went live Tuesday he has a "conservative track record of standing firm ... built in North Carolina, not Washington, D.C."
He formally made the announcement on his WBT radio show, which he's leaving in his effort to mount a political comeback.
McCrory, 64, narrowly lost his reelection bid in 2016 to Democrat Roy Cooper, who subsequently won a second term in 2020. In McCrory's announcement Tuesday, he said Republicans needed to "take back the Senate from Kamala Harris." Harris, the Democratic vice president, presides over the Senate and can cast tie-breaking votes.
McCrory's gubernatorial reelection bid was marred in part by widespread backlash over H.B. 2, also known as the "bathroom bill," which he signed into law and made transgender residents use public bathrooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificate.
"As a mayor and governor, I took on the tough fights," McCrory said in his announcement. "The liberals attacked me for it."
North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson quipped that McCrory shouldn't "quit (his) day job."
“North Carolinians remember exactly who Pat McCrory is -- a failed politician who signed hateful and divisive legislation into law, hurt our national reputation, and damaged our state’s economy," Richardson said in a statement Tuesday morning.
North Carolina's Senate race is expected to be one of the most closely watched contests of 2022. On the Republican side, incumbent Sen. Richard Burr is retiring. Several candidates, including Republican former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and Democratic state Sens. Erica Smith and Jeff Jackson, have announced bids. Former Democratic North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is reportedly also planning to enter the race.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd of the 13th District and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson are also reportedly eyeing bids, according to the Carolina Journal. Wilmington native Lara Trump, the former president's daughter-in-law, has also been discussed as a candidate but recently signed a contract with Fox News as a contributor.
Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, said McCrory's prominence in the state means he's currently the likely frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
“He has shown that he can win statewide office," Cooper said. He also noted that McCrory's radio program, in which the former governor focuses on the latest political news, has offered good preparation: “He’s been doing as much training as anybody could in running for the Senate.”
North Carolina's 2020 U.S. Senate race was also closely watched as a possible flip for Democrats. In the end, incumbent Republican Thom Tillis was reelected. Former President Trump narrowly won the state, too.