The Chronicle’s guide to federal races on the primary ballot in Durham

<p>Only 10.18% of registered voters in Durham County cast a ballot in the municipal primary elections.</p>

Only 10.18% of registered voters in Durham County cast a ballot in the municipal primary elections.

With early voting underway in North Carolina, The Chronicle has pulled together information on national races you will find on the ballot if voting in Durham.

North Carolina has an open U.S. Senate seat without an incumbent and a contested Democratic primary in District 4 for the first time since 1997.

The ballot will also include district court and district attorney races in North Carolina, county offices and non-partisan candidates for the Board of Education. 

Two significant retirements have created contested environments for both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House races.

Senator Richard Burr assumed office as one of North Carolina’s senators in 2005. He previously represented District 5 from 1995 to 2005. During his 2016 campaign, Senator Burr declared that if he won, he would not seek a fourth term in 2022. 

On the Democratic side, longtime Representative David Price announced in October that he will retire at the end of his term, resulting in a contested Democratic primary for the first time in 25 years. 

The North Carolina primary is Tuesday, May 17 and early voting continues through 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. Voters can use the North Carolina Voter Lookup to verify their voter registration status and find their Election Day polling place and sample ballots.

U.S. House of Representatives District 4 

North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, which consists of Durham, Orange, Alamance, Person, Granville, and a portion of Caswell counties, is a progressive district. Whoever wins the May primary will have an easy run to a General Election win in November. 

Similar to the Republican Senate primary, if none of the eight primary candidates receive more than 30% of the vote, the race will conclude in a runoff election on July 26. 

The three front-runners in the Democratic primary are state Sen. Valerie Foushee of Orange County, Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam and singer Clay Aiken. 

If elected, all three candidates would make history. Foushee would be the first African American woman to represent the district, Allam would be the first Muslim woman elected to federal office in North Carolina and Aiken would be the first openly LGBT member of the state’s congressional delegation.

Sen. Foushee is running on a platform of civil rights, criminal justice reform, voting rights and gerrymandering, climate change solutions, public health equity in education, economy, childcare and pandemic preparedness. She is endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Elect Black Women, Emily’s List, retiring Rep. G.K. Butterfield, whose district represents Eastern North Carolina and at one point included part of Durham, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein and other local elected officials.

She lost the endorsement from the Progressive Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party after accepting “significant” donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, with the caucus citing AIPAC backing of Republicans who voted against certifying President Biden’s election victory.

The four key pillars of Allam’s campaign are high-quality public education, a safe, livable planet, affordable housing and reproductive justice, according to her campaign website. She is endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, Senator Bernie Sanders, the News & Observer, Working Families Party, Durham for All and the Carolina Federation.

Allam and Foushee divided key endorsements from Durham’s most important political action committees. Allam received the nomination from the People’s Alliance and Foushee gained endorsements from the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.

M.A. Senator Elizabeth Warren endorsed Allam on April 8. “Nida Allam is the first Muslim woman elected to office in North Carolina. She’s delivered real change—like a $15 minimum wage for county workers and property tax relief that helped families stay in their homes during the pandemic. I’m happy to endorse her for Congress in #NCO4,” Warren wrote in a tweet.

Aiken is running to “deliver on needed progressive politics,” according to his campaign website. His primary policy positions include, “stopping climate change, systemic racism, income inequality and gun violence, to securing voting rights, free health care and a woman’s right to choose.”

He has received endorsements from Dee Snider and the Equality PAC

Former Rep. David Price has not endorsed any of the nominees. 

Also running in the Democratic primary are: 

  • Crystal Cavalier
  • Matt Grooms
  • Stephen J. Valentine
  • Ashley Ward
  • Richard L. Watkins

There are two Republicans on the primary ballots in the Democratic stronghold district. 

Courtney Geels is a nurse running to “bring more common sense and conservatism to Washington,” according to her campaign website. Her policy platform is grounded in individual rights. She wants to protect the parent’s “right to choose a better school for their children,” end vaccine mandates that “restrict our freedoms” and “put an end to the abortion industry and defund Planned Parenthood.” 

Geels received an endorsement from NC Values Coalition.

Robert Thomas practiced family law, corporate law and securities law throughout his career, according to his campaign website. He is running because he felt “disgusted with the direction of the county,” according to his website. His policy platform consists of four pillars: inflation, climate change and energy independence, the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment and the border wall. 

U.S. Senate 

NC voters have not elected a Democrat to the US Senate since 2008, but the party might need a win in the swing state this midterm year to maintain control of the Senate. 

There are currently 11 Democrat candidates on the ballot, but former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasly is the expected front runner. 

Beasley was appointed by NC Governor Roy Cooper in 2019 to serve as state Supreme Court Chief Justice but lost her reelection race in 2020 by 401 votes out of nearly 5.4 million ballots cast. She announced her candidacy in April 2021. 

According to her campaign website, Beasley is running on a platform of justice and fairness. Her priorities are shaped by the conversations she has had with North Carolina residents, her platform reads. 

If elected, Beasly would become the third-ever Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. 

Beasly has received endorsements from Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign PAC, the political arm of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, NARAL Pro-Choice America, NRDC Action Fund, North Carolina Association of Educators and a list of nearly 70 leaders from across the state. 

Also on the Democratic primary ballot for U.S. Senate are 

  • James L. Carr, Jr. 
  • Robert Colon 
  • Alyssia Rose-Katherine Hammond 
  • Constance (Lov) Johnson 
  • Tobias LaGrone 
  • B.K. Maginnis 
  • Rett Newton
  • Marcus W. Williams
  • Greg Antoine 
  • Chrelle Booker 

On the Republican primary ballot, a heated three-way race leads a list of 14 candidates. Former NC Governor Pat McCrory, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker currently lead in the polls. 

If no candidate receives more than 30% of the vote, the top two could advance to a runoff on July 26.

McCrory was elected in 2012 and was the first Republican elected to serve as NC governor in two decades. He is the only Republican candidate who has won a statewide race. According to his campaign website, he is running on a platform of fiscal responsibility, patriotic leadership, American safety and faith and family with the ultimate goal of providing “conservative leadership built in North Carolina.”  

Budd currently serves North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of central North Carolina. Former President Donald Trump gave Budd his “complete and total endorsement” as the next U.S. Senator from North Carolina. 

According to his campaign website, Budd is running because he is “gravely concerned about our country’s future.” His top policy priorities include “protecting sanctity of life,” “defending the second amendment,” “securing the border” and “standing with law enforcement.”

Walker represented North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District for three terms, from 2015 to 2021. Before launching his grassroots campaign, he was a pastor for 16 years. According to his campaign website, Walker considers himself an effective conservative and bridge builder. 

Walker’s campaign aims to serve voters over the GOP establishment, citing a “People Over Politics” sentiment.

Budd has said that McCrory is not conservative enough, but the former governor criticized Budd for his comments excusing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior and cast him as a right-wing candidate similar to U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Cawthorn has endorsed Walker. 

Also running in the Republican primary are:

  • Marjorie K. Eastman
  • David Flaherty
  • Benjamin E. Griffiths
  • Kenneth Harper, Jr.
  • Charles Kenneth Moss
  • Lichia Sibhatu
  • Debora Tshiovo
  • Jen Banwart
  • Ms. Lee A. Brian
  • Leonard L. Bryant
  • Drew Bulecza

Kathryn Thomas profile
Kathryn Thomas | News Editor

Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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