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Walker defies Trump, says he’ll stay in N.C. Senate race

POLITICO
POLITICO
 2022-01-28
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Former Rep. Mark Walker’s announcement comes as uncertainty looms over North Carolina’s newly drawn congressional map. | Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

Former Rep. Mark Walker says he is staying in North Carolina’s open Senate race, a decision that rattles the GOP primary in one of the nation’s most competitive contests.

His decision to remain in the contest defies former President Donald Trump’s offer to endorse him for a House seat — an offer that was designed to clear the Republican field for Trump’s chosen candidate, Rep. Ted Budd.

As Walker spoke to a crowd of hundreds of supporters in Greensboro, N.C. on Thursday night, a crew dramatically lifted a tarp from his campaign bus, revealing a Walker for Senate logo.

“What we’re basically saying is we’re going to stay on that path, and we’re going to keep working at this,” said Walker, who remains a distant third in a primary with former Gov. Pat McCrory and Budd.

Trump last summer endorsed Budd in the primary. But the congressman has failed to secure a significant lead over McCrory, despite the Club for Growth’s super PAC pledging at least $10 million to boost his campaign.

Walker in early December attended a meeting at Mar-a-Lago , where Trump offered his endorsement to Walker if he exited the Senate primary and instead ran for a House seat similar to his old district. The meeting, attended by Club for Growth president David McIntosh, was organized in an attempt to smooth Budd’s path to the party nomination. Walker announced afterward he would take the holidays to come to a decision about his plans.

“Our polling shows he is already out of the North Carolina Senate race, so what’s the difference?” McIntosh said Thursday, referring to Walker’s decision to remain in the race.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, Walker touted the diverse coalition behind his Senate campaign, including Black pastors and other people of color seated on stage behind him.

“I am the only candidate endorsed by everybody from Freedom Caucus members, Sen. Tim Scott, Mike Huckabee, minority community leaders who are registered Democrats,” Walker said.

Budd’s campaign quickly criticized Walker after the event. In a statement, Budd adviser Jonathan Felts said “it’s a bad sign when a candidate has to re-announce that he’s still an actual candidate” after more than a year of campaigning.

Walker’s announcement comes as uncertainty looms over North Carolina’s newly drawn congressional map, which is mired in a court challenge and could be redrawn, with the possibility of the House district in question becoming heavily Democratic. Candidates are also awaiting word on whether the state’s primary date will be pushed back for a second time, now to June.

The extended Senate primary fight — already pushed back from March to May — will cost Republicans even more to secure the nomination. A fourth GOP Senate candidate, Marjorie Eastman, entered the race early October and reported raising $422,978 in the last 13 weeks.

Democrats, meanwhile, cleared their primary field for former state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley.

Comments / 274

Covfefe
01-28

Keep in mind that when Trump was still in office six of seven of his endorsements lost the election including two U.S senators from Georgia.

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Susan Magnuson
01-28

Walker makes his own decisions, not Trump! Trump is so upset that he needs to act like he's President, but people are laughing at him.

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Hope Hathaway
01-28

Yes! This is the way to help ppl know you are NOT MAGA! Make the news before the vote and let ppl know you are NOT with that orange loser!

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