Reporting from the Charlotte Observer over the weekend highlighted the division among Republicans over the “value” of an endorsement from former President Donald Trump in the 2022 midterm elections. The reactions among the GOP rivals and their allies are another sign of bitter infighting in what is shaping up to be a long and messy GOP primary:
- While both former Congressman Mark Walker and former Governor Pat McCrory declined to comment on what a Trump-endorsed candidate’s loss in Texas means about the value of a Trump endorsement, Walker’s campaign account was quick to tweet out a veiled insult of Congressman Ted Budd: “Once again, a DC Super PAC spent millions on a candidate whose voter card they wanted to control only to be rejected by the voters.”
- A McCrory adviser was more direct: “[Club for Growth] gave Trump bad advice and pushed him into endorsing an unvetted candidate who couldn’t win, just like they’ve done in North Carolina.” And another McCrory adviser is circulating a memo citing polling that argues the Trump endorsement could hurt Budd’s chances in the General Election — despite McCrory saying he would “welcome” Trump’s endorsement in April.
- The President of Club for Growth, a right-wing group that has endorsed Budd and raised over $5 million to support his campaign, said that “President Trump remains the leader of the party and no one will win the NC Senate Republican primary and general election with an anti-Trump message.” An advisor to Budd’s campaign also said the endorsement “opened up a lot of new doors for Ted Budd,” including raising $700,000 from individual contributors.
“Every single Republican campaign welcomed the coveted endorsement of former President Trump until they got passed over for one of their opponents,” said Kate Frauenfelder, a NCDP spokeswoman. “These GOP primary rivals and their allies are willing to say and do anything to tear down their opponents in this messy and expensive race to the nomination, even if it means shamelessly flip-flopping out of desperation and potentially alienating a key part of their base.”