Rep. Congressman Ted Budd considering Senate bid

Posted 4/14/21

Congressman Ted Budd (R-N.C.) is considering a bid for Richard Burr’s Senate seat in the 2022 midterm election, according to members of his staff.

Several reports in recent days have suggested …

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Rep. Congressman Ted Budd considering Senate bid

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Posted

Congressman Ted Budd (R-N.C.) is considering a bid for Richard Burr’s Senate seat in the 2022 midterm election, according to members of his staff.

Several reports in recent days have suggested Budd might seek to transition from the House of Representatives, where he has served since 2017, to the U.S. Senate. By press time, however, Budd had not officially announced his candidacy.

“I can only confirm that Rep. Budd is seriously considering making a run for Senate in 2022,” Budd’s communications director, Curtis Kalin, said in response to a News + Record inquiry. “No final decision has been made yet.”

Sen. Richard Burr, who has served in Congress for more than 25 years, announced in 2016 his plan to retire from politics at the end of this term. Should Budd choose to pursue Burr’s seat, he’ll join a competitive group of contenders, including Chatham’s Kimrey Rhinehardt, who is unaffiliated. Budd would also vacate his position as North Carolina’s representative for the 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of 10 counties in central N.C. His district border runs through western Chatham, bisecting Siler City.

Retaining control of North Carolina’s Senate seats is a critical objective for Republicans in Washington. Right now, the Senate is evenly divided with 50 Democrats (including some independents) and 50 Republicans. Democrats hold a tenuous majority with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a swing vote.

Only two Republicans have announced their candidacy in the 2022 Senate race, compared to five Democrats. They include former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and Jen Banwart, a new figure on the state’s political scene. Former Gov. Pat McCrory is also considering a bid, but had not announced his plans by press time.

Among the Democratic candidates are State Sen. Jeff Jackson, who visited Chatham last month, and former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

In a visit to Siler City last month, Budd told the News + Record he was impressed with the county’s industry — its resilience despite challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For instance, at the chicken processing plant, I see a lot of insight, a lot of foresight in dealing with COVID-19, a lot of precautions,” he said. “And I’m very impressed so far, especially with the way there’s so much food processing that takes place here for the whole nation. This really is part of the critical infrastructure and I think you all have done a great job.”

But Burr expressed disappointment that pandemic restrictions have stifled economic growth. If Republicans could regain control in Washington, he said, towns such as Siler City would see more targeted economic relief.

“The main thing for me is getting the majority back, and then once we do that, continuing the economic recovery,” he said. “The best stimulus is not $2 trillion printed out of thin air. The best stimulus is full reopening — we need kids back in school, we need to be fully reopened. We can do it safely, we can do it cautiously. We don’t want to be flippant at all and we want to take care of any specific medical needs that people need. But we got to get kids back in school and businesses fully reopened.”

Most N.C. children will have returned to in-person learning this month under Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest direction. By 2022’s election season, it’s likely that businesses will be operating without restrictions. But Congress may still be navigating effects of the economic downturn, and Burr says a Republican philosophy will best serve the country’s needs.

“If you look at states like Florida and Texas,” Burr said of the Republican strongholds, “their economy is recovering faster. And that’s what people need.”

Primary elections are scheduled in North Carolina for March 2022. It’s unclear, however, whether pandemic-forced delays in census data will disrupt the normal election schedule. This year, states are obligated to perform decennial redistricting — remapping legislative and congressional districts according to shifts in population and demographics — for which census data is essential.

Normally, the U.S. Census Bureau would have delivered its findings in February. Due to pandemic delays, however, states may not receive census data until September, pushing back the complex redistricting process by several months.

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @dldolder.

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