In a race that could shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, Republican Ted Budd defeated Democrat Cheri Beasley in Tuesday's general election, complete but unofficial election returns show.
Republicans need to flip only one Senate seat to gain control. The Senate is now split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Thirty-four seats are being contested.
But Budd’s victory would not be the one to flip Senate control. The winner between Budd and Beasley will replace retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr.
Returns from the State Board of Elections on Tuesday night showed Budd receiving 2.87 million votes, or 50.75% of the ballots cast, to 1.74 million votes, or 47.04%, for Beasley.
Once the votes are canvassed and the election returns are certified, It appears that Budd will replace Burr.
Budd, 50, has been in the U.S. House of Representatives representing North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District since 2017. His House term ends in January.
Beasley, 56, is a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court. She also served on the state Court of Appeals and as a District Court judge in Cumberland County.
As was the case in the 2020 presidential election, rural voters largely supported the Republican candidate, while voters in the state’s most populous counties — including Cumberland — voted heavily Democratic. Beasley won only 21 of the state’s 100 counties. About half of the state’s registered voters cast ballots.
In Cumberland County, Beasley received 55.06% of the vote to 42.72% for Budd.
Budd was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and adheres to many of his political positions. Budd opposes abortion even in the case of rape, incest or threat to a woman's health. He grew up on a farm in rural Davie County and still lives there today. He says he will fight against President Joe Biden’s agenda and uphold conservative values. He supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In his campaign ads, Budd attacked Beasley, calling her soft on crime while she served on the state Supreme Court and too liberal for North Carolina. Among other issues, Budd accused Beasley of supporting student loan forgiveness and using taxpayer money to help the rich at the expense of everyone else.
Beasley’s campaign attacked Budd as a Trump-backed politician who opposes abortion, failed to vote for legislation to lower prescription drug prices and played a role in the settlement of his father’s bankrupt agricultural business, costing farmers millions.
The race was tame — one political pundit even called it “boring” — compared with celebrity races in Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Although Beasley outraised Budd by nearly a 3-1 margin, national Republicans poured far more money into Budd’s campaign than did their Democratic counterparts in the campaign's final weeks, The Associated Press reported.
In his acceptance speech, Budd thanked Beasley for her service and Trump, his family and North Carolina voters for their support.
Two other candidates were in the race. Libertarian Shannon W. Bray received 1.36% of the vote, and Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh received 0.78%.
Greg Barnes is an investigative reporter for CityView. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.