Democrats struggling to preserve their Senate majority caught a rare break when Jeff Jackson dropped his campaign in North Carolina and cleared a path to the nomination for Cheri Beasley.
North Carolina offers vulnerable Senate Democrats one of their few pickup opportunities in 2022, with Republicans defending an open seat created by the planned retirement of Sen. Richard Burr amid a competitive GOP primary that features at least three viable candidates.
With Jackson, a state senator, out of the race, Beasley can immediately begin preparing to take on the eventual Republican nominee in the midterm elections without having to fight her way through a Democratic primary.
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“Everyone needs to know when to step aside,” Jackson tweeted Thursday. “To win in November, we need to unite right now.”
Beasley is a former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the first black woman to serve in that role. She was the consensus choice of Tarheel State Democrats to run for the state’s open Senate seat in a competitive battleground state that has consistently elected Republicans to its federal and statewide offices since former President Barack Obama won there in 2008.
Even if Beasley is the strong candidate Democrats presume, she will have a fight on her hands next year. The midterm elections are shaping up as a rebuke of President Joe Biden and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. But by avoiding a messy primary fight, in which she would undoubtedly have to run to her left to satisfy the party’s liberal base, it could boost Beasley’s prospects.
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Meanwhile, the Republicans show no signs of unifying before the May 17 primary. Rep. Ted Budd, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is the presumed front-runner. But GOP insiders in North Carolina believe if the election were today, former Gov. Pat McCrory would win.
Also vying for the nomination is military veteran Marjorie Eastman and former Rep. Mark Walker.