With Abortion, Voting Rights At Stake, Here’s What You Need to Know About NC’s US Senate Primary

Cheri Beasley sits at a table in a restaurant with potential supporters in Durham, NC.

Cheri Beasley, a Democratic US Senate candidate, speaks to potential voters in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Allison Lee Isley for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Cheri Beasley sits at a table in a restaurant with potential supporters in Durham, NC.

By Staff Reports

May 9, 2022

The race is shaping up to be a battle between Trump and everyone else in North Carolina’s Republican Party. 

In the 2022 elections, North Carolina could help decide which party controls the US Senate, which means that who wins here could determine the future of voting rights, the fight against climate change and whether a woman gets to decide for herself whether or not to have a baby.

Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from Winston Salem, is not seeking re-election, opening a frenzied race to replace him. The primary, when each party votes for who will represent it in the November general election, is on Tuesday, May 17, a week from tomorrow.  

Here’s a quick look at the candidates from both parties.

The differences between them is stark.

The Democrat to Beat

With Abortion, Voting Rights At Stake, Here’s What You Need to Know About NC’s US Senate Primary
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, center, laughs with husband Curtis Owens, right, while son Matthew Owens, watches, before she speaks with reporters at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary D. Robertson)

There are numerous Democratic candidates, but Beasley, a former NC Supreme Court justice, is widely expected to be the nominee. She is one of the only candidates so far to release a detailed plan of both priorities and specific policy proposals to meet them.

Among other things, she has called for a national law securing the right for a woman to choose whether to have an abortion; pledged to expand access “to quality, affordable healthcare,” and voiced support for several of the provisions in President Biden’s bills or proposals to repair deteriorating infrastructure in the state and invest in renewable energy sources and decrease carbon emissions. 

Leading Republican Candidates

With Abortion, Voting Rights At Stake, Here’s What You Need to Know About NC’s US Senate Primary
In this Nov. 6, 2018 file photo, Rep. Ted Budd, R-NC, answers questions from the media at his election party in Bermuda Run, N.C. Budd is one of the leading Republicans in the US Senate primary this year. (AP Photo/Woody Marshall, File)

Abortion Rights: Both of the leading Republicans, US Rep. Ted Budd and Ex-Gov. Pat McCrory, oppose a woman’s right to choose and say the Supreme Court should overturn Roe. v. Wade.

Voting Rights: Though he eventually acknowledged that Biden won the election fair and square, Budd initially voiced support for former President Donald Trump’s completely false claims that the election had been stolen. 

Budd also voted against certifying the results of the election, and has dismissed the Jan. 6 insurrection as insignificant. Trump has endorsed Budd in the primary.

Both Budd and McCrory have backed voter ID laws that federal courts found to be intentionally discriminatory against North Carolinians of color. 

Climate Change: Though both candidates have avoided talking about the threat of climate change outright, they have been dismissive of or unresponsive to the widespread warnings from essentially every scientist that the world is heading toward an unsustainable future. They have resisted any notion of curbing fossil fuels and blocked or criticized any federal effort to fight climate change along the ways that the science says is urgently needed. 

Expanding Medicaid

McCrory blocked efforts to expand Medicaid while he was governor, and Budd has criticized efforts by Gov. Cooper to expand healthcare coverage to some 500,000 North Carolinians.

What Else You Should Know

McCrory, the former governor, made his name in 2016 for pushing what became known as the “bathroom bill.” The bill, House Bill 2, would have prevented transgender students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. The bill also prevented local governments from expanding their own protections for LGTBQ residents.

The bill was expected to cost the state nearly $4 billion in lost revenue from an assortment of corporate boycotts and entertainers and productions that said they would not travel to North Carolina if the bill stayed on the books.

When Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrat, was elected in 2016, he and the General Assembly reached an agreement to scrap that bathroom provision from the law and start over, though the resulting legislation still barred local governments from extending LGTBQ protections.

Though Budd and McCrory are in a fierce battle for the Republican nomination, there is very little daylight between their positions, as the Winston-Salem Journal pointed out last month. 

McCrory’s biggest attacks against Budd have been about Budd skipping the debates to attend large fundraisers. 


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