WILMINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) – The lineup is set for a political rally here on Friday night, and it’s not all about former President Donald Trump.
He’s certainly the keynote speaker, scheduled to take to the microphone at about 7 p.m. at the Aero Center at Wilmington International Airport, 1830 Flightline Road.
But if this were a concert, there is a long list of warm-up acts, some of them very familiar names, scheduled to start orating at 4 p.m. That’s after the parking lots and gates open at 8 a.m. and the doors open at 2.
We knew that Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate and the candidate endorsed by Trump, was going to appear.
Budd said two weeks ago that he “welcomed” Trump’s return to North Carolina, despite the series of criminal and legal investigations into his actions related to Jan. 6, election issues, the taking of top-secret documents and private businesses practices.
But now we have the other names on the marquee for this event.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of Greensboro, who is about to release his memoir, and Rep. David Rouzer (R-Wilmington), who is seeking re-election in that 7th Congressional District on Nov. 8, are listed in a release from Budd’s campaign.
Another of Trump’s endorsed candidates, Bo Hines, the newcomer and GOP nominee in the 13th District, also will speak. That’s the district in name that Budd has represented since 2016, but this one version is redrawn drawn to include southern Wake County and three counties south of there, where there is no incumbent.
Michael Whatley, chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, also is on the schedule.
Trump staged a rally last Saturday night in Youngstown, Ohio, where he talked at length about his ongoing investigations.
North Carolina Democrats are using the event to “troll” Budd for comments attributed to him about the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump’s supporters tried to overturn the election of President Joe Biden.
The NC Democratic Party erected a billboard just outside the airport to highlight Budd’s comments that the insurrection was “nothing” and “just patriots standing up.”
Budd leads by 2.4 percentage points against Democrat Cheri Beasley in their battle to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr, based on the latest WGHP/Emerson College/The Hill Poll released this week.
His margin among likely voters is 45.6%-43.2%. Libertarian Shannon Bray generated 1.6% support in the poll, and Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh, a newcomer based on a recent court decision, is at .6 of a point. About 8.5% of voters remain undecided.
If you want to drive down to Wilmington on Friday, you have to register for tickets (they are free) by filling out a form.