McCrory, Walker take aim at Budd in WRAL GOP Senate primary debate

14 April 2022

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. Mark Walker—candidates vying for the Republican nomination in a closely-watched race for an open U.S. Senate seat—squared off Thursday in a WRAL-TV debate.

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is the GOP frontrunner in the race for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, 66, who has served in the Senate since 2005. Budd chose not to participate in the debate moderated by WRAL anchor Lena Tillett.

Early in the debate, McCrory took aim at Budd’s decision not to participate.

“If a candidate doesn’t come to a debate, which he’s refused every single debate, he doesn’t care about you, he doesn’t care about North Carolina,” McCrory said.

Meanwhile, Walker criticized federal government policies that he said was making it harder for businesses to find and retain workers.

“Until we get government out of this small business arena, we’re going to continue to suffer,” Walker said.

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is the GOP frontrunner in the race for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, 66, who has served in the Senate since 2005. Budd chose not to participate in the debate moderated by WRAL anchor Lena Tillett.

Jonathan Felts, Budd’s top campaign adviser, said the congressman on Thursday instead chose to speak with voters.

“Ted Budd is focused on finishing his 100-county tour of NC before the primary so he can speak directly to voters in all 100 counties and ask for their vote,” Jonathan Felts, a Budd adviser, said in a statement Thursday. “Some candidates like to look voters in the eye and ask for their vote, while other candidates prefer the comfort and convenience of green rooms and TV studios.”

A WRAL News poll released Monday shows that Budd leads McCrory ahead of the May 17 primary.

Thirty-three percent of respondents supported Budd. McCrory trailed with 23%. Walker had 7% support. A 10-point lead is considered strong, but it could narrow or expand as the primary nears; one-third of respondents said they were undecided.

Candidates need more than 30% of the vote to win the nomination outright ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.

WRAL News Poll shows Budd ahead of McCrory in US Senate race

In recent months, Budd has gained ground as Club for Growth Action, an influential political action committee in Washington, D.C., has increased its spending over the airwaves to criticize McCrory and highlight the endorsement Budd received last year from former President Donald Trump. Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has also thrown his support behind Budd.

Budd has sought to present himself as the likeliest candidate to defeat Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court on track to win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

“North Carolinians witnessed yet another chaotic display of Republican infighting at tonight’s debate,” the state Democratic Party said in a statement after the debate. “… The GOP primary is revealing to voters every day that none of these candidates deserve to represent North Carolina in the U.S Senate.”

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