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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

Pat McCrory says his political career is over — and asks what happened to the Republican Party

Pat McCrory speaks to supporters at Selwyn Pub Tuesday after losing to Rep. Ted Budd.
Steve Harrison
Pat McCrory speaks to supporters at Selwyn Pub Tuesday after losing to Rep. Ted Budd.

Pat McCrory’s campaign did not expect to win.

So instead of renting a hotel ballroom, their campaign event was at Selwyn Pub, a few blocks from his home in Myers Park.

There were about 50 people there.

They heard McCrory say he doesn’t know if he has a place in the Republican Party anymore.

“Now I have to do some real self-evaluation of where I belong. And not only me, it’s where these people belong in our party,” McCrory, gesturing to his well-wishers. “I want to make sure we maintain a sense of civility, a sense of character and accomplishment.”

McCrory lost to Rep. Ted Budd in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate by about 35 percentage points. McCrory did win his home county of Mecklenburg — but by less than 100 votes. Budd won everything else.

As McCrory spoke to his supporters — and then the media — one thing was missing: A call for his supporters to support Budd against Democrat Cheri Beasley in November.

“I have said I would (endorse) in the past but during the past several days it’s been said I’m a Republican In Name Only,” McCrory said. “And if they really meant it, I have to go through some real evaluation.”

McCrory started the race leading in the polls, with more name recognition after serving as governor from 2013 to 2017.

But Donald Trump endorsed Budd last summer at the state GOP convention with McCrory in the audience.

And the Club for Growth spent $8 million in the primary boosting Budd — and also tearing down McCrory.

McCrory was asked: Is he a man without a party?

“I feel like Jason Bourne,” he said.

He was talking about the movie where a spy has amnesia.

“I was mislabeled five years ago by the radical left who called me an extreme right-winger. Some of you did the same in the media, and that was a false identity,” he said.

He was referring to his decision to sign HB2 in 2016 — the bill that required people to use the bathroom in government-owned buildings that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate. The firestorm over that law may have cost him a second term as governor when he narrowly lost to Democrat Roy Cooper in 2016.

In this year’s Senate primary, his past criticisms of former President Donald Trump — and saying he would have certified the election — may have hurt him as well.

“And now I see people in my party who say I’m a liberal RINO which was a false identity so right now I’m kinda Jason Bourne,” McCrory said.

McCrory criticized what he says are the failed policies of President Biden. Then he turned back to his own party.

“I hope we see some honesty about some leaders in our party who maybe don’t have the character or temperament to lead our party in the future,” he said. “As I said, right policies, but maybe we need to look for other people with better temperament policies and values.”

McCrory was first elected to Charlotte City Council in 1989. He became Mayor in 1995 and was the city’s longest-serving mayor, serving for 14 years.

As mayor, he never really had a close race. But he’s now lost two governor’s races and Tuesday night’s Senate primary.

In addressing his supporters, he made it sound like this was his final campaign.

“Life is a full circle,” he said. “I started three blocks from here running for City Council and I end here in public service with my friends and colleagues that will be my friends and colleagues forever.”

After losing his reelection bid for governor, McCrory became a successful talk radio host on WBT. He said he doesn’t know what he’ll do next.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.