The North Carolina GOP Senate primary is shaping up to be a messy battle as candidates continue racing to the far right in hopes of gaining Trump’s approval — no matter the consequences for North Carolinians. The N&O reported today on the bevy of Republican candidates mulling Senate campaigns and those who have already decided to jump in. One thing is clear — the Trump name has “loomed over the GOP field” and will continue to define and drive tensions in the primary even as Republican voters are running away from the party in record numbers.
- The NC GOP Chair assured that Republicans would have a Trump-aligned, “America First” nominee.
- Former Congressman Mark Walker is trying to define himself as “the most pro-Trump member” of North Carolina’s congressional delegation, and has bragged that “Trump backed his bid” back in 2019.
- Lara Trump’s candidacy has “for months loomed over the GOP field of would-be candidates,” even though she hasn’t lived in the state for more than a decade.
- Congressman Ted Budd, a member of the House Freedom Caucus and hard-core Trump loyalist, is reportedly now “leaning towards” a Senate run but is already bowing down to Lara Trump before he even enters, with his campaign consultant admitting: “if she got in, he wouldn’t run.”
- Failed former governor Pat McCrory, who was voted out of office by North Carolina voters in 2016, is now expected to try to make a comeback by announcing a Senate campaign later this week.
The crowded GOP field is already disgruntling donors. The conservative PAC Club for Growth, which has previously backed Budd, “doesn’t want to choose between Budd and Trump.” As Trump has “fingerprints” all over Senate races across the country and chooses favorites based on “who agrees with him most often,” North Carolina is shaping up to be no different.
“Republicans are setting themselves up for a bruising primary that will deplete their party and drive divisions between crucial voting blocs, putting them out of touch with North Carolina voters,” said Kate Frauenfelder, a spokeswoman for NCDP. “Instead of focusing on the issues that matter most to folks across the state like delivering coronavirus relief and creating good-paying jobs, Republican candidates are fixated on approval from and fealty to a disgraced former president.”