Can’t tell the players without a program

More U.S. Senate candidates, plus a new congressional district

Personal note: I got the second Moderna COVID vaccine yesterday. Hydration, Aleve, and rest seem to be Da Bomb. Other than a little soreness around the injection spot, and slight fatigue, I feel great. Now back to work!

Senate race gets more crowded

Two expected entrants joined the 2022 U.S. Senate field this week: former N.C. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat; and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican. Three-term Republican incumbent Richard Burr is retiring.

The two B’s brings the field to eight candidates: five Democrats and three Republicans. To avoid a second primary, the winner of each party’s March 8 contest must finish first (duh) with at least 30% of the vote.

(My former Carolina Journal colleague Dallas Woodhouse reported a sixth Democrat was being wooed to run — state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen. Now THAT would shuffle the deck.)

Cheri Beasley, “No Closed Doors”

Beasley, 55, lost an opportunity in November to serve a full eight-year term as chief justice by a mere 401 votes to Republican Justice Paul Newby. But Beasley had won statewide elections to the Court of Appeals in 2008 and the state Supreme Court in 2014. Gov. Roy Cooper picked her in 2019 to fill the vacant chief’s seat when Republican Mark Martin resigned to become dean of the law school at Regent University in Virginia.

Speculation she would run for the Senate heated up in March. Since she’s won two statewide elections and her challenge to the 2020 race kept her in the headlines weeks after the November election, voters should know her better than they do the other candidates: state Sen. Jeff Jackson of Mecklenburg County; Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton; former state Sen. (and 2020 U.S. Senate candidate) Erica Smith; and Durham virologist Eric Watkins.

Beasley, Smith, and Watkins are Black.

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In her introductory video, Beasley said little about about specific policies, coming no closer than this:

Whether it’s health care, education, or the ability to find work that supports a family and retire with dignity, too often Washington only responds to the well-connected. As we come out of this pandemic, now more than ever, that needs to end.

The former chief is expected to run a center-left campaign, putting her in the same lane as Jackson, who’s raised a bunch of money. Smith, the most progressive Democrat, lags Jackson in fundraising.

My friendly sparring partner Thomas Mills, a former Democratic consultant and editor of the PoliticsNC.com site (where I post far too infrequently), calls Beasley the front-runner. As Thomas says, “Beasley’s race is with herself.” If she can be a credible fundraiser and campaigner, no other Democrat could touch her. 

Unless Cohen jumps in, this sounds right.

Ted Budd, the ‘liberal agenda crusher’

Budd, a Davie County gun shop owner and three-term congressman, joined the U.S. Senate candidate party Wednesday with a 3-minute ad including lots of Trumpist rhetoric, leavened with a smattering of humor, including a monster truck, a gun he said he didn’t to brandish, and a dog.

“I don’t even know that dog.” 

Budd poked fun at U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Georgia Democrat who barely won a January runoff. One reason pundits gave for Warnock’s victory: Several ads he made with Alvin the beagle, who appeared with the candidate taking walks and pooping (the dog, not the candidate).

Alvin was a prop. He isn’t Warnock’s dog.

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Budd’s ad also includes several “endorsements” President Trump offered last year at rallies. Red-meat slogans, too.

“Today, the U.S. Senate has become the last line of defense against becoming a … “

Within hours of announcing, the conservative Club for Growth PAC, a fundraising heavyweight that spent millions opposing Trump in early 2016 but has since gone full-MAGA, endorsed Budd.

As the most Trumpist Republican candidate, Budd offers a contrast with McCrory and Walker.

McCrory, like Beasley, has won and lost statewide elections. He’s better known than either Walker or Budd. He’s also running as the center-right problem-solver. 

Walker, a pastor and former congressman who headed the influential Republican Study Committee, is going after Evangelicals and non-white voters, touting endorsements from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott. He’s the conservative bridge-builder.

Here we go.

With 14th District, N.C. reaches a new summit*

It’s official. North Carolina will gain a record 14th congressional district for the 2022 election. 

N.C. is one of five states to pick up congressional districts from the reapportionment demanded by the 2020 census. Texas gained two. 

We’ll have to wait to see how the new congressional and legislative maps will look. The feds have until September 30 to release the granular residential data. Then the legislature has to draw new maps.

Given heavy migration from rural counties to suburban and urban ones, though, I think several congressional districts each will cover a lot of counties. The rest will have relatively tiny geographic footprints.

Happy Birthday, Ann-Margret

She turned 80 today. There was “Bye-Bye Birdie,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “Tommy” … 

And this. “Kitten with a Whip”, lovingly(?) riffed by “Mystery Science Theater 3000”**:


*For my Colorado friends

**The excellent rebooted MST3K, which was dropped by Netflix, is closing out a Kickstarter campaign to launch new episodes on its own app. I’ve kicked in!