by Andrew Trunsky
Former President Donald Trump struck a deal this past weekend to clear the crowded field in North Carolina’s Republican primary for Senate for Rep. Ted Budd, his preferred candidate, a source close with Budd and familiar with the meeting confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Budd, who joined the fray in April and received Trump’s endorsement two months later, has failed to emerge as the frontrunner in a GOP primary that includes former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker. One recent poll conducted for the conservative group Club for Growth, which has also backed Budd, found the congressman slightly behind McCrory even as Budd’s popularity rose in recent months, while Walker remained in a distant third.
An internal poll from McCrory’s campaign, however, showed the former governor up by 15 points.
Over the weekend, Trump told Walker that he would endorse him if he dropped out of the Senate race and ran for a House seat, the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said, adding that Walker did not take much convincing given his standing in the race.
“Trump offered Walker the endorsement, and it’s expected to get rolled out this week,” Walker’s former chief of staff, Jack Minor, told Politico, which first reported the meeting.
This is the flier Rep. Madison Cawthorn passed out at the meeting with Trump, Mark Walker, Bo Hines and David McIntosh (Club for Growth) on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/kUzmEAELdi
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) December 6, 2021
Walker served in Congress from 2015-2020 in much of what is now made up by the 7th district in North Carolina’s new congressional map.
The meeting included Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn and Republican candidate Bo Hines, the source said, who had campaigned as a candidate in the 7th district himself. If Walker declared in the 7th district, however, Hines would receive Trump’s endorsement to run in the 4th district instead, Minor told Politico, though Hines did not say whether he would ultimately do so.
The field is vying to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Though Democrats fell short of beating Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in 2020, the race is likely to be one of the country’s most competitive in 2022.
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Andrew Trunsky is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.