GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Republican Phil Berger, the state Senate leader who represents most of Guilford and all of Rockingham County, has thrown his support behind Rep. Ted Budd in the U.S. Senate race.

“It’s imperative Republicans nominate an electable conservative candidate, and that candidate is Ted Budd,” Berger said in a statement he released to The News & Observer in Raleigh.

State Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) (Courtesy of NC General Assembly)
State Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) (Courtesy of NC General Assembly)

Budd (R-Davie), who has served the 13th Congressional District since 2016, has surged ahead of former Gov. Pat McCrory in most polls as 14 Republicans compete to replace retiring Richard Burr.

Former Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro and McCrory have been on the debate stage twice, and newcomer Marjorie Eastman of Cary has joined them once during the campaign. Budd has declined to participate in a face-to-face debate.

Berger is arguably the most powerful Republican in North Carolina, having served in the Senate since 2000 and been its president pro tempore (leader) since 2011. He is running unopposed in November.

Budd and McCrory have raised about the same amount of money, and with the help of PACs have lobbed TV ads at each other’s performance and reputation. But the polls have shown Budd with double-digit leads despite a large percentage of undecided voters.

Ted Budd (Courtesy of US Congress)
Ted Budd (Courtesy of US Congress)

Budd, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and who has steep financial support from the super PAC Club for Growth, was nominated for Congress in 2016 by beating 16 other candidates with 20% of the vote. Club for Growth’s support helped to separate him from the field in that race, too. He then beat Democrat Bruce Davis in what was a foregone conclusion of the General Election.

McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte but a native of Jamestown, was governor from 2013 to 2016 but lost a re-election bid against Gov. Roy Cooper. He has had a daily radio show and kept active in politics.

Walker was a Baptist minister when he was elected to Congress in 2014 after the retirement of long-term Rep. Howard Coble. Coincidentally Walker won the nomination in a come-from-behind runoff victory against Phil Berger Jr., who is now a member of the state Supreme Court. Walker beat Laura Fjeld in the General Election.