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Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd will face Democrat Cheri Beasley in North Carolina’s Senate race after both easily clinched primary victories Tuesday night.
Budd had the endorsement of Donald Trump and his victory is a boost for the former president, who is looking to reshape a new generation of Republicans. Beasley, a former state supreme court justice, won her 11-candidate primary. If she prevails in November, Beasley would be the state’s first Black senator.
LIVE: 2022 North Carolina Primary Election Results
The year’s midterm primary season is entering its busiest stretch with races also unfolding in Kentucky, Oregon and Idaho. Trump is poised to notch several easy wins, including in Pennsylvania’s much-watched GOP race for governor, which far-right contender Doug Mastriano was already leading before the former president backed him over the weekend.
But Trump’s preferred Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz, has divided conservatives who are typically in lockstep with Trump. Some are suspicious of the ideological leanings of the celebrity heart surgeon who gained fame as a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. Oz has spent much of the campaign in a heated fight with former hedge fund CEO David McCormick.
That’s allowed commentator Kathy Barnette to emerge in the final days of the primary as a conservative alternative to both Oz and McCormick. Should she win the primary and general election, Barnette would be the first Black Republican woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Trump, who has held campaign-style rallies with Oz, insists he is the best candidate to keep the Senate seat in Republican hands in the fall. Given his level of involvement in the race, a loss would be a notable setback for the former president, who is wielding endorsements as a way to prove his dominance over the GOP ahead of a potential 2024 presidential run.
“I think he’s tough. He’s very smart. He’ll be helpful,” Trump told a Philadelphia radio station on Tuesday, referring to Oz. “I also think he’s the one that’s gonna win the election. You know that’s not an easy election to win.”
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