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Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd won North Carolina’s open Senate seat on Tuesday, defeating Cheri Beasley while extending a losing streak for state Democrats seeking a spot in that chamber.
Budd, a three-term congressman, will succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr, who entered the Senate in 2005.
As a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump and ready to embrace the former president’s support, Budd will provide a more hardline conservative voice in the Senate than Burr, who voted in 2021 to convict Trump at his impeachment trial related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Beasley, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court attempting to be the state’s first Black senator, fell short despite having a significant fundraising advantage over Budd’s campaign. But national Republicans came to Budd’s defense with a large wave of spending attacking her judicial record and support for President Joe Biden’s policies.
According to AP News, Beasley’s defeat means Democrats have now lost seven of the eight Senate elections this century; their only victory coming in 2008. While North Carolina statewide elections are usually closely divided affairs, Democrats have won all but one gubernatorial election since 1992.
The Senate Leadership Fund, which is linked to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., alone spent $38 million against Beasley, along with other conservative groups whose spending effectively canceled out her fundraising edge. The Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC committed to spending well less than half of that amount.
With the $38 million, Budd was relentless during the fall campaign in attempting to link Beasley to Biden, saying last month that “she would be an absolute rubber stamp for everything that’s led to this country being on the wrong track.”
Despite Democrats hoping abortion rights would motivate their voters, inflation, the economy and crime were more top of mind in the Cardinal state bombarded with negative ads aimed at Beasley.
Sen.-elect Budd has downplayed the Jan. 6 insurrection, and once called those who stormed the Capitol “patriots.” He also has refused to answer whether he believes President Biden won the 2020 election. Budd will join fellow North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in the upper chamber in January.