NC Republican Senate candidates Budd and McCrory spar over how close is too close to Trump
Former President Donald Trump held a rally Saturday night in Johnston County, where he stumped for several Republican candidates — including U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in the GOP primary for North Carolina’s open U.S. Senate seat.
Trump told supporters in Selma, North Carolina, that, “You’re going to send, a very great man, a great man, I’ve known him a long time, he’s a tremendous person — Ted Budd — to the U.S. Senate.”
Budd is hoping Trump’s endorsement propels him to victory in the May 17 primary, while his main opponent, former Gov. Pat McCrory — is taking a different approach.
McCrory released a digital ad last week linking Budd and controversial Republican U.S Rep. Madison Cawthorn together, saying they would be speaking at what McCrory called the “Budd-Cawthorn rally.” He did not mention Trump.
The ad suggested that Democrats will paint Budd as an extremist. And it showed video footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Budd voted against certifying the election, though he later said in an interview that he thought Joe Biden was the legitimate president.
McCrory has said repeatedly he would have certified Biden’s victory.
But an Emerson College Poll released last week shows that, among Republican primary voters, Trump’s endorsement is boosting Budd.
It found 38% of primary voters support Budd, 22% support McCrory and 9% are for former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker.
Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling, said there’s one key theme in the North Carolina race.
“I’ll say the biggest influence in the race is the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, where 59% of voters say that they are more likely to vote for a candidate with that endorsement. And Budd has that endorsement,” Kimball said.
Kimball said a similar poll in Georgia shows that only 40% of Georgia Republican primary voters are likely to back the candidate that Trump supports. That may be because Trump has backed former U.S. Sen. David Purdue in his bid to defeat incumbent Republican Brian Kemp in the governor’s race.
Emerson College is rated an A- pollster by the website FiveThirtyEight.
Meanwhile, an outside group that supports Walker, called AwakeNC, released an ad saying Walker didn’t fight hard enough for Trump. It played a video clip of that Budd interview last year in which he said Biden was the legitimate president and said that there is “No fight in Ted Budd.”
Republican North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson also endorsed Budd Saturday.