RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is coming out strong against one of his ex-colleagues in Congress: Rep. Ted Budd.
They’re the two names with Congressional experience in the crowded race in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. The primary election is May 17.
But was one criticism from Walker out of bounds?
THE CLAIM: In an interview with CBS 17 News, Walker said Budd considers himself “the ‘Liberal Agenda Crusher.’ I think that’s their platform. But I would ask, is there a single liberal agenda that he’s crushed in D.C.? Usually, about your third term, you’re leading, or you’re accomplishing, you’re passing something. And there’s no record of that.”
THE FACTS: Budd campaign spokesman Jonathan Felts pointed out that the “Liberal Agenda Crusher” is the name of the campaign’s monster truck prop, not the platform or Budd himself.
Felts pointed out several “liberal agenda items” that he says Budd has “crushed” in the last 6-12 months.
— A letter from Budd questioned if leaders in Charlotte were planning to spend some of its $60 million in CARES Act funds on items that were not directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
— His proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act ordered the U.S. Department of Defense to restore reports documenting the military assistance provided to security forces in Afghanistan. Those reports had been erased from some federal websites last summer.
Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer lives in the state’s 13th Congressional district and is represented by Budd. He says the Congressman’s record “will be a primary target for his primary opponents.”
But Bitzer says Walker’s criticism overlooks a key issue: Congress — and, for that matter, the entire country — is incredibly polarized, and the Democrats took control of the House during the midterms four years ago.
So how much of the Democrats’ agenda could Budd reasonably have stopped?
Not much, Bitzer said.
“The question becomes how much do folks know about the ins and outs of the U.S. House of Representatives and the operations there,” Bitzer said. “The majority controls everything. And if you are in the minority, you really don’t have many venues or paths to be able to stop something.”
Because of the level of influence Trump maintains over a significant chunk of the party, what does that really mean for the pecking order in that GOP primary?
Bitzer said it “sends a cue or a signal” to Republican voters to “basically say this is Trump’s man.
“They’re looking for any and all kinds of information that they can get in certainly an endorsement by the former president — who is still pretty much favored by his party and the base of the party — is something that will be an advantage to Ted Budd,” Bitzer said. “The question becomes for (former North Carolina Gov. Pat) McCrory and Walker, how much can they blunt that endorsement with attacks such as these lodged against Ted Budd?”