Fundraising in the N.C. Senate race heats up

Fundraising in the N.C. Senate race heats up

Ted Budd thanks former president Trump for his endorsement at the N.C. GOP state convention in Greenville this summer. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

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As expected, millions are pouring into the high-profile contest to replace U.S. Senator Richard Burr in 2022.

Why it matters: In the purple state of North Carolina, the race is drawing national attention as one that could tip the balance of power in the Senate.

  • But first, each party must determine a candidate in the March 2022 primary, and the second-quarter campaign finance data released last week give some shape to the field.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Jeff Jackson has outraised his opponent Cheri Beasley so far, at $2 million, though he had a headstart after declaring in January.

  • Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, announced she was running in late April. She is quickly catching up to Jackson, raising $1.3 million since. 
  • Former N.C. Sen. Erica Smith has raised just over $309,000 this year.

On the Republican side, former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd have the most fundraising momentum. McCrory raised $1.2 million since announcing in April; Budd, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, pulled in about $700K in the second quarter to make his total $1.1 million for the year

  • Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker has slightly outraised his opponents overall, at $1.3 million, but his total includes money from his House account moved over last year. Walker’s raised about $412K in 2021. 
Data: FEC. Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Burr is not running for reelection, prompting a wide field on both sides of the aisle in the race to fill his seat in 2022. 

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    • Last year’s contest between incumbent GOP Sen. Thom Tillis and challenger Cal Cunningham topped $200 million and broke records.

Other candidates this time include virologist Richard Watkins and Beaufort mayor Rett Newton, both Democrats, and Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke and Greensboro businessman Kenneth Harper, both Republicans.

  • Second-quarter reports were not available for Democrat Ava Edwards or Republican Jen Banwart.

Go deeper: Already, notable donors have been contributing to the race.

  • Pat McCrory’s donors include a number of high-profile Charlotte business leaders, such as LendingTree CEO Doug Lebda, Ed Crutchfield (former CEO of First Union Bank, which merged with Wachovia), Ned Curran (former CEO of Ballantyne developer The Bissell Companies), Frank Harrison (CEO of Coca-Cola Consolidated) and Roddey Dowd Jr. (CEO of Charlotte Pipe & Foundry).
  • Ted Budd’s contributors include Peter Thiel (a venture capitalist, co-founder of PayPal and Republican megadonor), the conservative Club for Growth PAC, Charlotte Pipe & Foundry’s Dowd, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (who represents Rock Hill) and Richard Childress (former NASCAR driver and current team owner of Richard Childress Racing).
  • Jeff Jackson’s donors include Frank Reed (CEO of Amelie’s), Gary Michel (CEO of Charlotte manufacturer Jeld-Wen), Clay Grubb (a Charlotte developer) and Greg Gach (President of Hendrick Automotive Group).
  • Cheri Beasley’s high-profile contributors include the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Lead the Way 2022 (which promotes progressive candidates), Off the Sidelines (a PAC led by U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand) and EMILY’S List (which supports Democratic, pro-choice female candidates). 

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