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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro made it official on Wednesday, filing his paperwork to enter the race for the U.S. Senate.

Republican Senate candidate Mark Walker of Greensboro (WGHP)

Walker, who served three terms in the 6th Congressional District in 2014-2020, has been in the race longer than just about any other Republican who is seeking to replace the retiring Richard Burr.

Although he has lagged in polling and fundraising behind Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) and former Gov. Pat McCrory, Walker recently staged a rally to relaunch his campaign, eschewing the encouragement of former President Donald Trump for him to pull out and run for Congress. That withdrawal would be seen as a boon for Budd, who has Trump’s endorsement and millions of dollars in support from the conservative superPAC Club For Growth.

Walker, who said in a release he had filed his paperwork in Raleigh at 3 p.m., McCrory and newcomer Marjorie Eastman of Cary participated in the first debate of the season on Saturday in Raleigh, an event sponsored by the conservative John Locke Foundation. Budd did not attend.

“Winning our first US Senate debate on Saturday has provided even more affirmation moving forward,” Walker said in his release. “We may not have all the money, but we have the momentum. More importantly, we have grassroots supporters across the state that are coming over to our campaign every week and I look forward to representing them in the US Senate.”

Although Eastman has not formerly filed, Walker is one of 11 Republicans in the race. There are also eight Democrats and one Libertarian who have filed.

The GOP field for Senate other than Budd, McCrory and Walker consists of Jen Banwart of Fuquay Varina, Lee Brian of Clayton, Leonard Bryant of Fayetteville, Drew Bulecza of Lincolnton, Benjamin Griffiths of Cleveland, Kenneth Harper Jr. of Archdale, Charles Kenneth Moss of Randleman and Lichia Sibhatu of Raleigh.

Democrats are frontrunner Cheri Beasley, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, and minister and psychotherapist Tobias LaGrone of Greensboro, Greg Antoine of Fayetteville, Chrelle Booker of Tryon and Alyssia Rose-Katherine Hammond of Raleigh, Lov Johnson of Charlotte, Rett Newton of Beaufort and Marcus Williams of Lumberton.

Shannon W. Bray of Apex is running as a Libertarian.

Candidate filing continues until noon on Friday, and barring an intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering a motion filed by Republicans in the NC General Assembly, the Primary Election will be on May 17. The lawmakers’ suit would have no other bearing on the Senate race because it is not subject to legislative voting maps.

The NCGA is challenging a map for congressional districts approved last week by a 3-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court and then upheld on appeal by the state Supreme Court. The court’s order said that map was a version of the remedial congressional map drawn by the General Assembly and modified by three special masters appointed by the trial court.

Lawmakers base their complaint on the constitutional mandate that voting districts are to be drawn by the legislature, not the courts.

The remedial maps from the General Assembly were required after the state Supreme Court tossed out the originals because they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to maintain or expand Republicans’ control in Washington and Raleigh. SCOTUS has ruled in recent years that such decisions about gerrymandering were the purview of state courts.