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Republican Ted Budd defeats Democrat Cheri Beasley in North Carolina's U.S. Senate race

Ted Budd, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate
Lynn Hey
/
For WUNC
File photo of Republican Ted Budd, who won the race for U.S. Senate against Cheri Beasley on Nov. 8, 2022.

Voters in North Carolina elected three-term congressman Ted Budd to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

Budd, a Republican, beat Cheri Beasley, a Democrat and former chief justice of the state Supreme Court attempting to be the state's first Black senator.

"It's time now to put the brakes on the Biden agenda of reckless spending, overregulation and higher taxes," Budd said to supporters Tuesday night. "It's time to fully support the men and women of law enforcement who keep us safe each and every day."

As a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump and ready to embrace the former president's support, Budd will provide a stronger hardline, conservative voice in the Senate than Burr, who voted in 2021 to convict Trump at his impeachment trial related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Beasley had raised significantly more money than Budd. According to a review of campaign finance reports by Open Secrets, she raised nearly $34 million while Budd raised a bit more than $12 million. But outside groups heavily favored Budd. Outside groups spent more than $48 million to oppose Beasley and another $22 million to support Budd. Outside groups spent $17 million to oppose Budd, and $6 million to support Beasley.

Shortly after midnight, Beasley conceded victory to Budd. She started her speech by thanking all the volunteers and everyone who helped on her campaign.

Beasley concession.png
Jason deBruyn
/
WUNC
Cheri Beasley speaks to supporters after losing the race for U.S. Senate to Rep. Ted Budd.

"I am so grateful; so, so grateful that I met so many awesome folks along the way," she said. "And I give my deepest, deepest thanks to team Beasley."

The night started out promising for Beasley. Early voting results put her up by a wide margin. But as more precincts reported, that lead eroded and Budd ultimately won by more than 135,000 votes, a margin of more than 3 percentage points.

Beasley's defeat means Democrats have now lost eight of the state's nine Senate elections this century; their only victory coming in 2008. While North Carolina statewide elections are usually closely divided affairs, Democrats have won all but one gubernatorial election since 1992.

Beasley did get an endorsement from former President Barack Obama in the campaign's final days, with him appearing in an ad for her. Biden never came to the state to campaign publicly for her, but Beasley had been noncommittal about attending such an event with a president who lost North Carolina's electoral votes in 2020 and is harboring low approval numbers.

Beasley would have become just the third Black woman elected to the United States Senate. She was the first Black woman nominated to that role in North Carolina. In her concession speech, she said she was the embodiment of her grandparents' American dream. But that the fight continues.

"Progress in this country has never been promised. It always takes time. And always in the face of injustice and adversity, we continue to fight," she said. "This isn't the outcome that we wanted, but we have made history in North Carolina."

Diane Robertson clasps her hands while watching election results at the Cheri Beasley campaign party in downtown Raleigh on Election night. Robertson was a volunteer for the Beasley campaign. Beasley would lose to Ted Budd in the race for a United States Senate seat.
Jason deBruyn
/
WUNC
Diane Robertson clasps her hands while watching election results at the Cheri Beasley campaign party in downtown Raleigh on Election night. Robertson was a volunteer for the Beasley campaign. Beasley would lose to Ted Budd in the race for a United States Senate seat.

Budd, 51, grew up in Davie County and previously worked in the family's janitorial and landscaping business. He and his father also created a company to invest in agricultural businesses. Today he owns a gun store and range.

Budd had never run for public office in 2016 when he won a 17-candidate Republican primary for the 13th Congressional District seat and later the general election.

Beasley, 56 and a Tennessee native, served as a public defender and local judge before getting elected to the 15-member intermediate-level Court of Appeals in 2008. Beasley was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2012 and became the first Black female chief justice in the state with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's 2019 appointment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Jason deBruyn is the WUNC health reporter, a beat he took in 2020. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016.
Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is WUNC’s Digital News Editor. She's a first-generation Colombian-American fluent in Spanish. She has two decades of experience than span print, audio, and digital reporting and editing.