In what is likely to be one of the nation’s top battleground contests next year, Rep. Ted Budd announced on Wednesday that he has entered the crowded North Carolina Senate race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr, Politico reported.
North Carolina, one of the most closely-divided and expensive swing states in the country, is one of five contests where the GOP is expecting competitive primaries to replace retiring senators.
In a video announcing his candidacy, Budd features former President Donald Trump repeatedly praising him, with the congressman declaring that "We all know that Joe Biden is a weak leader who won't stand up to the radical left. Today, the U.S. Senate is the last line of defense against becoming a woke, socialist wasteland, and I'm running to stop that."
Former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker have already joined the race on the Republican side. In addition, Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law, has said she's seriously weighing a bid, although she has not yet taken any official steps towards declaring her candidacy, according to Politico.
Upon entering the contest, Budd received an endorsement from the conservative Club for Growth, with the group's president David McIntosh saying, “Rep. Budd has already proven that he is a conservative champion in the House fighting against reinstating earmarks, bloated budgets, and tax increases. Rep. Budd would be an excellent addition to the Senate, and North Carolinians can always count on him to protect their taxpayer dollars and stand up to the special interests in Washington.”
Sources close to Budd told Fox News that the congressman was in Palm Beach, Fla., last weekend at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home for a fundraiser, and talked with the former president about his bid for the Senate.
Democrats slammed Budd for his vote against certifying the 2020 election results in the House. Stewart Boss, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called Budd Trump's "number one cheerleader in North Carolina’s congressional delegation - even after Trump’s outrageous voter fraud lies helped fuel a violent mob that attacked the Capitol and tried to overthrow the results of an election."
There is also a crowded and competitive race in the Democratic primary. Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, launched her campaign earlier this week. State Sen. Jeff Jackson is also a candidate, as is former state Sen. Erica Smith, who is trying again after losing the Senate primary last year.
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