by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
We’re used to national attention on North Carolina when it comes to politics and key elections. It’s already started again, even though the pivotal U.S. Senate race to replace Republican Richard Burr is more than a year away. The primary, however, is just months down the road, and it’s the Republican primary that will show how much juice the former president still has when it comes to elevating candidates.
You’ll recall that in the summer, Mr. Trump endorsed Rep. Tedd Budd over former Rep. Mark Walker and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Reports say that Budd and his team were as surprised as everyone else at the announcement. The real question is whether or not 45’s seal of approval is making the difference. From The Hill:
“We saw an immediate uptick in low-dollar donations starting 90 seconds after President Trump endorsed Ted from the stage of the N.C. GOP convention,” said Jonathan Felts, a senior adviser to Budd. “We already had a campaign plan with multiple lanes to victory for Ted prior to the endorsement, and President Trump’s endorsement has widened those lanes and opened up other pathways to victory as well.”
But Budd has not seen a consistent rise in the polls in the months since, and many surveys still show him with stubbornly low name recognition among voters, fueling speculation the endorsement came too early.
Now the spending has begun to try and connect Budd with Trump, and it’s coming from a huge and influential group.
The Club for Growth is expected to drop at least $10 million to boost Budd, and it put out an ad earlier this month focusing solely on Trump’s speech in June announcing his support.
“The fact that they’re spending that much money right now just to let people know that Trump and Budd are connected shows you that they really are concerned that that is not getting across,” said one prominent North Carolina political observer.
Here’s how valuable the Budd team thinks 45’s endorsement is. Below is the home page of Budd’s campaign website.
And here is Budd’s initial campaign video.
What about former Rep. Mark Walker and former Gov. Pat McCrory?
It would be foolish to count either of them out.
Here is Walker’s campaign site and his initial campaign video.
Here is McCrory’s campaign website and his initial campaign video.