RALElGH, N.C. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley won their respective Senate primaries on Tuesday, setting up a fall election matchup that should again test former President Donald Trump's influence in North Carolina.
Budd won the 14-candidate Republican primary over former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, while Beasley had entered Tuesday as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, which 11 people sought. Current GOP U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is retiring.
Their election victories came as North Carolina voters whittled down Democratic and Republican candidates seeking to serve on Capitol Hill, in the General Assembly and on the judicial bench.
Trump, who narrowly won the state's electoral votes in 2016 and 2020, gave his endorsement to Budd nearly a year ago. Budd benefitted from millions of dollars spent by the Club for Growth Action super PAC that was used to praise him and brand McCrory as too liberal.
McCrory and Walker criticized Budd for failing to participate in televised debates and accused the super PAC of trying to buy an election for Budd.
McCrory, a moderate within the state GOP, signed laws while governor that cut taxes and extended abortion waiting periods to 72 hours. He's best known nationally for signing a “bathroom bill” that restricted access for transgender people in 2016 and cost the state billions.
Beasley's path to the nomination widened after two rivals left the race last fall. Beasley, who would be the first Black senator elected from North Carolina, has consistently been the largest fundraiser in both primary fields.
Voters also picked nominees Tuesday for scores of county positions. Many towns and cities also held elections postponed last year because of redistricting delays.
Primaries were held in 13 of the 14 North Carolina U.S. House districts. Six of the seven incumbents seeking reelection this year and who faced challenges within their own party won on Tuesday.
But Rep. Madison Cawthorn, the 26-year-old, first-term congressman, lost his 11th District GOP primary Tuesday to state Sen. Chuck Edwards. A number of publicly disclosed personal and political blunders led top state Republican leaders to turn against Cawthorn and support Edwards.
Edwards will take on in November LGBTQ activist and local elected official Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who won the Democratic nomination for the 11th District.
Robust primaries were held for open seats as Democratic Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield plan to retire at year's end.
In the heavily liberal 4th District, state Sen. Valerie Foushee won the Democratic nomination to succeed Price in an eight-way race that included Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam and former “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken.
In Butterfield's northeastern 1st District, state Sen. Don Davis won the Democratic primary. In the Republican field, 2020 nominee Sandy Smith narrowly defeated Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson in an eight-candidate field.
In the open 13th District, Trump-backed candidate Bo Hines, who is also 26 years old, won the Republican primary over seven other candidates, including businessman DeVan Barbour, Smithfield attorney Kelly Daughtry and former Rep. Renee Ellmers. The five-person Democratic primary in the 13th resulted in a win for state Sen. Wiley Nickel from Wake County.
Redistricting in rural or slow-growth areas meant four pairs of Republicans are competing against each other in General Assembly primaries.
Unofficial results show Sens. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County narrowly leading Sens. Deanna Ballard of Watauga County. Both chair important chamber committees.
In the northeast, Sen. Norm Sanderson of Pamlico County defeated Sen. Bill Steinburg of Chowan County. They were seeking the same 1st District seat.
In the House, first-term Rep. Ben Moss defeated seven-term Rep. Jamie Boles in a Sandhills-area district. And Rep. Jake Johnson of Polk County won over Rep. David Rogers of Rutherford County for a seat.
In Cumberland County, Democratic Sen. Kirk DeViere lost in a three-way race to Fayetteville City Council member Val Applewhite, who had been endorsed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. DeViere had been accused of getting too comfortable with the GOP, especially during last year's budget negotiations.
There were three Republican appellate court primaries — one for a Supreme Court seat and two for the Court of Appeals.
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Stroud defeated District Court Judge Elizabeth Freshwater Smith. Current and former GOP appellate judges had lined up on opposite sides of the race. Stroud takes on Democrat Brad Salmon in November.
In another Court of Appeals primary, Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Michael Stading defeated former Industrial Commission Chairman Charlton Allen. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Darren Jackson.
And voters chose Trey Allen to compete in the fall against Associate Justice Sam Ervin IV, a Democrat. Allen, the general counsel at the Administrative Office of the Courts, defeated sitting Court of Appeals Judge April Wood and Greensboro attorney Victoria Prince.