Democrat Cheri Beasley has conceded to Republican Rep. Ted Budd in the U.S. Senate race for North Carolina.
Beasley’s concession marks the end of a wide-open and tightly-contested pursuit for North Carolina’s junior senator seat, which started after incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, announced he wouldn’t seek reelection. Budd currently leads Beasley 50.7% to 47.1% as of early Wednesday morning and by over 130,000 votes. NBC News called the race for Budd just after 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, with the Associated Press following suit right before midnight.
“You’ve said you’ve had enough of policies that make your lives worse,” Budd said to supporters in his victory speech. “And you’re sick of paying too much at the grocery store and at the gas pump. Tired of feeling unsafe when you walk the streets. Tired of being attacked just because you want to know what your kids are being taught at school.”
He said that Beasley, who, if elected, would have been the state's first Black senator, had called him to concede the race.
This race had the potential to shift the balance of the U.S. Senate. Republicans needed to win one additional seat to gain control of the Senate while Democrats only needed to keep the 50 seats they currently hold. Democrats hoped to leverage North Carolina’s increasingly balanced electorate to flip the state’s open Senate seat blue to account for potential losses elsewhere in the nation.
As of early Wednesday morning, Democrats have held on to all of their existing Senate seats, with the only Democrat to lose their reelection bid being Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia. NBC also called Pennsylvania’s Senate seat race for Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, which would result in a gain of one seat for Democrats in the Senate provided no other seats are lost.
Most polls leading up to the election projected a Budd victory. A Nov. 6 poll by the Trafalgar Group, a Republican-backed pollster projected a six point Budd victory. An Oct. 29 poll by Emerson College also predicted that Budd would win by six points.
This was likely due to the national backing that Budd received from Republicans. Despite Beasley having a 3-1 grassroots campaign funding advantage, political action committees linked to Republicans — particularly Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — spent over double the amount that PACs linked to Democrats did. This national party funding was spent on political advertisements criticizing Beasley’s judicial record.
Budd will likely bring a stronger conservative lean to the Senate than the incumbent Burr. He received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump during the Republican primary, on which he proudly stood.
As a U.S. representative representing North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District for three terms, Budd previously voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Burr, on the other hand, voted to convict Trump during his impeachment trial for charges related to his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots.
Budd is anti-abortion. He co-signed a bill in the House of Representatives to impose a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks. During his only debate with Beasley, he did not say whether he supports bans in cases of rape or incest.
Throughout his campaign, Budd took aim at President Joseph Biden’s administration, placing the blame for the current inflation crisis on Biden’s COVID-19 relief policies. He has aligned his platform with Trump’s, and supports a border wall. In his debate with Beasley, he placed blame for crime nationwide and in North Carolina on illegal immigration across the southern border.
“We need to support our law enforcement, secure our border, finish the wall and give our border patrol agents every resource they need to stop the cartels and the criminals from poisoning our citizens and our youth with deadly fentanyl,” Budd said in his victory speech.
Budd is a gun store owner from Winston-Salem, who strongly supports protecting Second Amendment rights and expanding law enforcement. As a senator, he seeks to create jobs, but is against Biden’s Build Back Better policy and the Green New Deal, describing them as “socialist.”
“It’s time now to put the brakes on the Biden agenda of reckless spending, overregulation and higher taxes,” Budd said in his speech. “It’s time to fully support the men and women of law enforcement who keep us safe each and every day.”
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Adway S. Wadekar is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume. He has also contributed to the sports section.