With less than one month until the May 17th primary election, the infighting among the GOP primary rivals is ramping up as fast as the outside spending pouring into the race.
Catch up on the latest:
- Three Republicans running to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate focused much of their attention during a debate Wednesday night on the one opponent who has skipped each of the three televised GOP debates that have been held this year.
- Former Gov. Pat McCrory, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and military veteran Marjorie Eastman each had harsh, pointed and frequent criticism for U.S. Rep. Ted Budd as they responded to questions during the hourlong debate, which was moderated by Tim Boyum, a political reporter at Spectrum News.
- “Ted Budd is so dependent on endorsements because he has no record to run on,” McCrory said. “And when you’re so dependent upon endorsements, as Congressman Budd is, you’re going to be a weak general election candidate. And a weak general election candidate is the last thing North Carolina and our country needs right now, when we have a 50-50 tie in the U.S. Senate.”
- Eastman, who served two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, said she learned from her time in the military that “leaders show up” and that Budd’s decision not to debate the other GOP candidates “says a lot.”
- Despite his absence, Budd came up frequently during the debate.
- “Congressman Ted Budd doesn’t want to show up and he wants a promotion?” McCrory said at the beginning of the debate. “He acts tough on the border for a TV commercial yet he’s too weak to come to Raleigh and debate opponents.”
Spectrum News: Political observers on U.S. Senate race
- That choice was highlighted Wednesday with the launch of a $1.5 million ad campaign from an outside political action committee in which Robinson criticizes Budd’s top opponent, former Gov. Pat McCrory—shots that McCrory says are deceitful.
- The group, Club for Growth Action, shared the ad exclusively with WRAL News. In an interview late Tuesday, ahead of the ad’s release, Robinson took aim at McCrory’s track record on education issues. The lieutenant governor identified Democratic appointees to a textbook commission who were selected while McCrory was governor. It’s a line of attack that McCrory considers “total deception.”
- “Pat put liberals in charge of state textbooks and supported Democrat judges,” Robinson says in the ad. “This time, we don’t have to settle. So I’m throwing my weight—and that’s a lot of weight—behind a principled, conservative choice for U.S. Senate, my friend Ted Budd.”
- Budd has relied on millions of dollars in outside spending—including $14 million pledged from the group—to build name recognition against two seasoned, recognizable North Carolina politicians. The funding has enabled him to maintain a lead in the GOP primary race, even while skipping key debates ahead of the May 17 primary election.
- Republicans are rushing to coalesce around Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) as their nominee to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) amid a chaotic and expensive primary contest that they worry could set them back ahead of the November general election.
- After trailing his main primary opponent, former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, in the polls for months, Budd has emerged as the front-runner in the race, bolstered by the endorsement of former President Trump and millions of dollars in spending by the conservative Club for Growth Action.
- But Budd is still far from a lock for the GOP Senate nod and still faces at least a small possibility of a primary runoff if he’s unable to breach the 30-percent threshold needed to win the nomination outright.
- 1. The elephant not in the room (again). Budd on Thursday declined an opportunity to appear on a debate stage for his U.S. Senate bid. It’s the second such event Budd has skipped. He also declined to participate in an ABC11/Carolina Journal debate in February.
- “If a candidate doesn’t come to a debate … he doesn’t care about you.” McCrory said. “He doesn’t care about North Carolina and he doesn’t care for freedom and democracy.
- Democrats also used Budd’s absence to highlight GOP infighting.
- “North Carolinians witnessed yet another chaotic display of Republican infighting at tonight’s debate,” said Kate Frauenfelder, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Democratic Party. “Between the desperate attacks on stage and Ted Budd skipping out to attend a high-dollar, country club fundraiser, the GOP primary is revealing to voters every day that none of these candidates deserve to represent North Carolina in the U.S Senate.”