GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – With less than two weeks to go before early one-stop voting begins in the Primary Election, Republican front-runner Ted Budd still hasn’t taken faced off against his two biggest challengers for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Rep. Budd (R-Advance) skipped his third debate against former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker. This one was Thursday night in Raleigh, sponsored by WRAL-TV, and by all accounts his absence took on a great presence during the questions and answers.

Budd has mounted a 13-point-digit lead in WGHP/The Hill/Emerson Poll and a 10-point edge in the WRAL Poll in the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr, and he has shown no inclination to face off with anyone, preferring to campaign and spend some of his millions in donations on a television ad blitzkrieg.

Budd skipped a debate in February sponsored by the John Locke Foundation, which featured McCrory, Walker and newcomer Marjorie Eastman. Another debate was canceled. “He hasn’t shown up for the first two [debates],” Walker said during the debate. “He won’t show up tonight. And I’ll say this right now: He will not show up for the final two either. You know why? Because they won’t allow him.”

Walker was referring to Budd’s campaign advisers, but Jonathan Felts, Budd’s top campaign adviser, told WRAL that ”Budd is focused on finishing his 100-county tour of NC before the primary so he can speak directly to voters in all 100 counties and ask for their vote. Some candidates like to look voters in the eye and ask for their vote, while other candidates prefer the comfort and convenience of green rooms and TV studios.”

WRAL reported that Budd, whose campaign has been buoyed by the endorsement of former President Donald Trump and $14 million in contributions from the Club for Growth super PAC, spent his day having lunch with Donald Trump Jr. in Raleigh and then attending a dinner in Johnston County.

Other than talking about Budd’s absence, McCrory and Walker defended their prior records and discussed issues such as the future of the Republican Party, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, inflation and their positions and records on various other issues.

Cawthorn’s opposition

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., leaves a House Republican Conference strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Madison Cawthorn, the outspoken representative of the 11th District, is under a huge challenge for re-election. There are seven Republicans challenging him – including the well-funded and highly endorsed state Sen. Chuck Edwards and the politically connected Michele Woodhouse – along with six Democrats and a Libertarian awaiting the nominee.

Chris Cooper, the political science professor and elections expert at Western Carolina University,  wrote a piece for The Assembly about who could beat Cawthorn. Cooper suggests that despite all his outrageous actions and opinions – and there is no shortage of those – Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) may have hurt himself most by saying he would leave that seat and run in a newly drawn 14th District. When the districts changed and the 14th became one strongly leaning Democrat, Cawthorn returned to the 11th, but not before Edwards, Woodhouse and others gained footing and funding.

Meanwhile, Michael Hyland of WNCN reports that some Democrats in the district are changing their registration to unaffiliated and voting in the GOP primary. For instance, Buncombe County, by far the most liberal county in that district, as of April 9 had 82,772 voters registered unaffiliated, 74,919 as Democrats and 45,891 as Republicans, meaning the GOP accounted for only 23.7% of voters. In Cawthorn’s home county (Henderson), the unaffiliateds are 42.6%, and Republicans are 36.6% Only 1 in 5 is a Democrat.

Greensboro election schedule

Please note this reminder: The General Election for Greensboro’s census-delayed municipal elections will be July 26, the same day as any runoff required by the primaries. The top two candidates among the four for mayor, the top two in four of the five districts and the top seven from 10 candidates for the three at-large seats will be decided. Because the council is non-partisan, May 17 isn’t a true primary but rather a narrowing of the field.

Because Justin Outling is running for mayor, his District 3 seat will be open, and there are three candidates. The other seven incumbents are all on the ballot. Only Nancy Hoffman and Thurston Reeder in District 4 avoid the primary.

Here are the candidates:

Greensboro Mayor: Incumbent Nancy Vaughn will face Mark Timothy Cummings, Justin Outling and Eric Robert.

Greensboro City Council:

  • At-large candidates: Incumbents Marikay Abuzuaiter and Yvonne Johnson and Tally L. Buchanan, Melodi Fentress, Tracy Furman, Hugh Holston, Franca Jalloh, Dustin Keene, Katie Rossabi, and Linda Wilson.
  • District 1: Incumbent Sharon Hightower, Felton Foushee and Timothy Kirkpatrick.
  • District 2: Incumbent Goldie Wells, Cecile “CC” Crawford, LaToya Bernie Gathers and Portia Shipman.
  • District 3: Bill Marshburn, Zack Matheny and Chip Roth.
  • District 4: Incumbent Nancy Hoffman and Thurston H. Reeder Jr.
  • District 5: Incumbent Tammi Z. Thurm, Robert Bodenhamer and Tony Wilkins.

Tidbits

  • Democratic frontrunner in the race the U.S. Senate seat, former NC Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, issued a statement attacking Budd for his recent vote against legislation to lower insulin costs. “Congressman Budd has once again put corporate special interests ahead of what’s best for North Carolina, voting tonight against bipartisan legislation to cap the cost of insulin – and he owes an explanation to the more than a million North Carolinians with diabetes and their families who are looking for relief.”
  • State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) on how he blames President Joe Biden for inflation that is rising to record highs: “In North Carolina, we have taken a different approach, and it’s working. We cannot spend our way to prosperity. Instead of rising debt, our state has a surplus thanks to responsible spending. Because of this, and despite the hardships caused by bad Biden policies, businesses are flocking to our state, and taxpayers have more money in their pockets. Maybe the president can take a few pointers from North Carolina.”