RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – In what would probably be a surprise to very few, former President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning issued his formal endorsement of Democrat Cheri Beasley in the race for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina.
Obama is appearing in a statewide ad for radio and digital platforms, Beasley’s campaign said in a release, and mentions her record and implores voters.
Beasley, a former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, has been locked in a very close race with Republican Ted Budd, a gun-shop owner from Advance who has represented the 13th Congressional District since 2016. Polls have moved a few points in either direction but show a virtually dead-even race to replace retiring Republican Richard Burr and perhaps establish which party controls the Senate in January. Libertarian Shannon Bray, a Department of Defense employee from Apex, and Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh, a retired State Department employee from Wake Forest, also are on the ballot.
Obama recently has issued endorsements in national races, including for Sen. Ralph Warnock, who is in an equally close race in Georgia. He has not made campaign trail appearances.
“Cheri works hard. She’s honest. And most importantly, she always puts people first,” Obama said in the statement that announced his endorsement. “In the Senate, Cheri will fight to make health care and prescription drugs more affordable, and protect our fundamental rights. From the right to vote, to a woman’s right to control her own body.”
In the transcript of the ad, Obama – who carried North Carolina in his first election in 2008, the last time a Democrat was elected to represent the state in the Senate – acknowledges that “this is going to be a close race.”
Both candidates have been crisscrossing the state, sometimes with national political voices. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was scheduled to appear with Budd today in Selma, and Florida Sen. Rick Scott and For instance, Republican National Committee Chair Rona McDaniel appeared with him last week in Greensboro. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have campaigned with Beasley most recently.
President Joe Biden has not made a campaign trip to North Carolina, although his wife, Jill, and Vice President Kamala Harris have made attended events that Beasley did not attend. Budd’s campaign has challenged Beasley on this point, saying she is trying to distance herself from Biden.
Both campaigns have generated millions of dollars in donations and millions of dollars in advertising support from political-action committees.
Early in-person voting started last week and continues through Nov. 5 – here is when and where you can vote – with the General Election on Nov. 8.
As of Tuesday morning about 530,217 ballots have been cast statewide (for both in-person and mail-in), which are trending higher than in the 2018 election. Most of those cast were by registered Democrats and women, tracking by oldnorthstatepolitics blog has found.