Candidates to clash in North Carolina’s high-stakes Senate debate Friday
North Carolina’s top two Senate candidates will face off against each other Friday night in the only scheduled debate before the high-stakes November matchup that could determine the balance of power in the Senate.
Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd are locked in a tight race to replace GOP Sen. Richard Burr, who declined to run for reelection. Burr was one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He paid a steep price when he came home. The entire North Carolina Republican Party voted to censure him.
Both candidates vying for Burr’s Senate seat have taken a more low-key approach to the election compared to the one two years ago between the incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham, which morphed into the most expensive Senate race in history.
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Beasley and Budd are virtually tied in the polls with only a month to go before the election.
Friday night’s debate will likely touch on topics and issues facing the residents in North Carolina, including inflation, abortion, and immigration.
Budd’s communications director, Samantha Cotten, said even though Beasley may be better in the debate due to her time as a lawyer and judge, she is still “gonna be delivering a flawed message of support for Joe Biden.”
“Ted Budd will win with his message of fighting against Bidenflation policies, working to secure our border, and curbing crime by working with police instead of trying to defund the police,” she said.
Beasley’s campaign spokeswoman, Kelci Hobson, said, “Cheri is looking forward to sharing her message of being an independent voice that stands up for North Carolina, upholds the constitution, and will always work to lower costs while holding congressman Budd accountable for putting himself and his corporate donors before North Carolinians and working to roll back our rights.”
Beasley, a Chicago native, moved to North Carolina after she graduated from law school in Tennessee. Her first job in North Carolina was as an assistant public defender in Fayetteville. She and her husband, Curt Owens, a scientist, put down roots in the area and raised twin boys. In 2008, Beasley became the first black woman in North Carolina to be elected into statewide office after she beat an incumbent Republican appellate court judge.
In 2019, Beasley became the first black woman to serve as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court after Gov. Roy Cooper promoted her to the position. In 2020, she lost a bid for a full term to Republican Paul Newby by 401 votes. Down but not out, Beasley set her sights on the open Senate seat. In May, she crushed her rivals in a crowded 12-candidate Democratic primary and walked away with 81% of the vote.
Budd, a representative for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District since 2017, made a trip to Mar-a-Lago on April 23, 2021, to discuss a potential Senate run with Trump. Five days later, Budd announced his candidacy. On June 5, he walked away with a Trump endorsement during the state GOP convention in Greensboro. He’s also picked up notable endorsements from high-profile state Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Phil Berger, the highest-ranking Republican in the GOP-controlled state Senate.
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A native North Carolinian, Budd worked as an investment analyst before getting into public office. He met his wife, Amy Kate, in 1991 while on a mission to the then-Soviet Union. The couple has three children, and they live on the farm where Budd was raised.