A North Carolina Senate campaign has become a referendum on Trump endorsements: report

A North Carolina Senate campaign has become a referendum on Trump endorsements: report

When Politico’s Natalie Allison reported on the GOP primary in North Carolina’s 2022 U.S. Senate race in a March 9 article, she stressed that an endorsement by former President Donald Trump wasn’t doing much to help Rep. Ted Budd — who was trailing former Gov. Pat McCrory in the polls and lagging behind in fundraising. But Allison revisits that race in a Politico article published on April 11 — only now, Budd is the primary’s frontrunner, according to at least two polls. And that primary, Allison reports, continues to be viewed as a referendum on how helpful an endorsement from Trump can be.

“Donald Trump came to town at just the right moment — in time to witness his chosen candidate finally emerge as the frontrunner in the state’s contentious Senate primary,” Allison reports. “After struggling for months to take the lead, polls released last week show GOP Rep. Ted Budd has a commanding advantage, ending speculation that the former president badly miscalculated with his early and unexpected endorsement of the little-known House member.”

Allison continues, “It’s a relief for Trump, whose endorsement record will be closely scrutinized in advance of a possible 2024 presidential bid. He’s already seen one of his endorsed Senate candidates drop out of the race in Pennsylvania, and another flounder in Alabama, where the former president pulled his endorsement from Rep. Mo Brooks last month.”

On April 5, The Hill’s Tad Axelrod reported that according to a Hill/Emerson College poll, Budd had a 16% lead over McCrory — which was quite a contrast to polls from February that showed Budd trailing McCrory. And Civitas poll, also from early April, finds Budd leading McCrory by 11%.

North Carolina’s GOP Senate primary will be held on May 17, and Allison notes that it “will serve as one of the year’s first major tests of” Trump’s “clout within the party.”

“Budd’s surge coincides with a deluge of spending by the Club for Growth, a conservative super PAC pouring $15 million into the Republican primary to support his candidacy,” Allison observes. “The congressman also now has the backing of one of the state’s most popular Republicans, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson — an endorsement likely to increase his support among conservative evangelicals.”

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