In what was an extreme­ly close race right up until the fin­ish, Repub­li­can U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ted Budd defeat­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date and for­mer state Chief Supreme Court Jus­tice Cheri Beasley for U.S. Sen­ate, 51% to 47%.

The can­di­dates were vying for an open seat, as incum­bent Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Richard Burr had decid­ed to not seek reelection.

Cheri Beasley was first appoint­ed to the bench as a state dis­trict court judge in North Car­oli­na in 1999, then won the seat out­right in a 2002 elec­tion and was re-elect­ed in 2006 (a wave year for Democ­rats) with­out opposition.

In 2008 she was elect­ed to the state Court of Appeals, becom­ing the first black woman to win elec­tion to statewide office in North Car­oli­na with­out hav­ing been pre­vi­ous­ly appoint­ed to the giv­en posi­tion. In 2012, she was appoint­ed to the state Supreme Court, and won the seat out­right in a 2014 election.

In 2019, she was appoint­ed Chief Jus­tice of the state Supreme Court, but lost an elec­tion to retain the seat in 2020 by a heart­break­ing 401 votes.

The Repub­li­can can­di­date, Ted Budd, has rep­re­sent­ed the state’s 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict since 2017. He is a mem­ber of the far right wing Free­dom Cau­cus and owns his own gun store. He had the sup­port of both the Club for Growth and Don­ald Trump. Budd vot­ed against cer­ti­fy­ing the 2020 elec­tion in the hours after the pro-Trump insur­rec­tion­ist mob was cleared from the Unit­ed States Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021. More recent­ly, he was quick to embrace South Car­oli­na Sen­a­tor Lind­sey Graham’s pro­pos­al for a nation­al ban on most abor­tions after fif­teen weeks, co-spon­sor­ing the com­pan­ion House version.

The Repub­li­can cam­paign focused on infla­tion, that Beasley was “soft on crime”, exag­ger­at­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic posi­tions on abor­tion and feed­ing trans­pho­bic fears, then trans­lat­ing it into increased per­ceived risk in pub­lic schools.

At one point tele­vi­sion sta­tions through­out the state decid­ed to pull an attack ad against Beasley that accused her, while Chief Jus­tice, of vot­ing in favor of “set­ting free… a child porn offender.”

The Democ­rats focused on increas­ing black vot­er turnout, espe­cial­ly through “souls to the polls” out­reach at black church­es, ref­er­enc­ing the dan­ger­ous effects of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs deci­sion, and, inter­est­ing­ly, acknowl­edg­ing infla­tion and pro­vid­ing options to lim­it its effects on families.

Nei­ther cam­paign received the lev­el of nation­al vis­i­bil­i­ty or the out­side fund­ing of oth­er races. North Car­oli­na has been a very tough state for Democ­rats with­in the top tier of offices for over a decade, but nei­ther can­di­date seemed to want the strongest like­ly draws for media atten­tion — Pres­i­dent Joe Biden for Beasley, and for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for Ted Budd — stump­ing for them in North Car­oli­na. They set­tled instead for House Major­i­ty Whip Jim Clyburn and Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz.

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