Ted Budd defeated Pat McCrory, Mark Walker, and eleven other candidates in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in North Carolina on May 17, 2022. Incumbent Richard Burr (R) did not run for re-election.
The primary was among the first U.S. Senate races in which former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed a candidate. Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore wrote, “[North Carolina is] a particularly big deal for Trump, whose midterm strategy is to show his clout in both primary and general-election races.”
Budd, the owner of a gun range and store in Rural Hall, has represented North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District since 2017. Trump endorsed Budd in June 2021, and Budd focused on his support for Trump and Trump’s record. Budd’s website said, “Ted was elected to Congress along with President Donald Trump in 2016 and has established a strong, conservative record supporting efforts to secure our borders and stand up for America First policies.”
McCrory was governor from 2013 to 2017. Before that, McCrory was the mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009. McCrory focused on economic issues and highlighted his record as governor. McCrory’s website said he “turned around North Carolina’s economy from the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country to one of the highest for job growth.”
Walker represented North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District from 2015 to 2021 and was a pastor for 16 years before that. Walker said he was a conservative warrior and a bridge-builder. Walker said, “[O]ut of 1,000 elected Republicans in North Carolina, I’m the only one to speak or give a commencement address at one of our state’s HBCU’s, and I’m the only Republican in all of Congress to win the United Negro College President’s Award.”
McCrory and Walker criticized Budd for not participating in a number of public events, including several debates. Jordan Shaw, a strategist for McCrory, said, “US Senators don’t get to hide from the voters, run from the media, avoid debates, and refuse to answer tough questions.” Walker said, “[Budd] does not want to have to be on the same stage with me because it creates a contrast.”
Budd’s campaign called McCrory a career politician and criticized McCrory’s electoral performance.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R), U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R), Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (R), and the Club for Growth endorsed Budd. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R), U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R), and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) endorsed Walker. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) endorsed McCrory.
If no candidate had won more than 30% of the primary vote, a runoff would have taken place on July 26.
As of May 2022, three independent election forecasters considered the general election as Lean Republican.
Also running in the primary were Jennifer Banwart, Lee Brian, Leonard Bryant, Drew Bulecza, Marjorie K. Eastman, David Flaherty, Benjamin Griffiths, Kenneth Harper Jr., Charles Moss, Lichia Sibhatu and Debora Tshiovo.