RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Republican Ted Budd won North Carolina’s open seat in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Cheri Beasley in the highest-profile race in the state.
NewsNation and Decision Desk HQ called the race for Budd just before 11:30 p.m. Budd had 50.8 percent of votes to 47 percent for Beasley with nearly 99 percent of precincts across the state reporting.
Beasley led in both methods of early voting — absentee by mail, and absentee one-stop in person — but Budd received more votes among ballots cast Tuesday.
In his victory speech in Winston-Salem, Budd reflected on his upbringing in the state, which he said was “in my bones.
“I want to make the Old North State that much better again,” he said.
The race was one of several across the country that was viewed as critical for both parties as they tried to wrest control of the Senate — which is presently split 50-50.
Budd’s victory kept the seat in Republican hands, as he will replace Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who declined to seek a fourth six-year term.
The race was viewed as a referendum of sorts on former President Donald Trump, who in 2020, won the state by just 1.3 percentage points — his smallest margin of victory among the states he carried.
Trump endorsed Budd — a 51-year-old gun store owner who grew up in the Davie County town of Advance and was elected to the U.S. House in 2016. The former President even came to the state in September to stump on his behalf, and Budd thanked him in his speech.
Former President Barack Obama, meanwhile, endorsed Beasley — a 56-year-old former Cumberland County public defender who was elected to the state Court of Appeals in 2008, was appointed to the Supreme Court four years later and was appointed chief justice in 2019 by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Beasley is vying to become the state’s first Black senator, and just the third Democrat elected to the senate since Terry Sanford in 1986.
The two candidates differed greatly in their approaches to such key issues as crime, the economy, abortion and health care.
Attacks on Beasley during the campaign accused her of being soft on crime, particularly during her tenure on the state Supreme Court, or of wanting to defund the police — claims Beasley denied and disputed.
Beasley, in turn, attacked Budd for supporting a bill that would outlaw abortion nationwide and for voting against a bill in the House that would have capped the monthly cost of insulin at $35 per vial. Budd’s campaign said such a move would have done nothing to actually lower those costs.