Former President Donald Trump’s surprise endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd in the North Carolina Senate race erased Mark Walker’s advantage with grassroots Republicans and set up a two-man race for the 2022 nomination with Pat McCrory.
Walker, a former congressman, won a Senate straw poll of party activists conducted over the weekend at the North Carolina Republican Party convention. The staunch conservative romped with 44%, compared to 29% for Budd and 18% for McCrory, the former governor. But after Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, opted against running for the Senate, the former president used his convention keynote to endorse Budd, blocking Walker’s path to victory in the primary.
“With Trump jumping in to endorse Ted Budd, the biggest loser is Mark Walker,” said Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst at the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank in Raleigh, North Carolina. “This gives Ted Budd a major leg up to being the alternative to Pat McCrory.”