Former Gov. McCrory Plans to Launch Campaign for Open NC Senate Seat Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. (Gerry Broome/AP)
By Brian Freeman | Monday, 12 April 2021 06:07 PM
Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is planning to launch his campaign for the state’s open Senate seat this week, according to people familiar with his plans, Politico reported Monday.
The move has been expected for months, but McCrory, a Republican, has not publicly indicated that his decision was finalized. A source familiar with his plans said he has been assembling a state and national team for the campaign.
McCrory, who won the governorship in 2012 and lost reelection in 2016, would start the Republican primary in the contest to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr as an early frontrunner.
The race is expected to be one of the most expensive in the country next year, with North Carolina seen as a vital state for the GOP to hold as they seek to win back the Senate majority from Democrats.
Former Rep. Mark Walker is the only major Republican candidate in the race at this point and has been gathering endorsements since beginning his campaign in December.
Other Republicans considering entering the race are Rep. Ted Budd and Lara Trump, former President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law and campaign adviser, although she has not yet taken any public steps toward doing so.
According to a copy of a poll conducted for McCrory and obtained by Politico, the former governor would enter the race with a significant lead over Walker and Budd, as well as extremely high name identification among likely GOP primary voters.
This is not surprising given that neither of his potential opponents have run in a statewide election before, according to Politico.
The survey, which did not include Lara Trump, found that McCrory was viewed favorably by 58% of likely primary voters and unfavorably by 13%.
Walker was viewed favorably by 20% of GOP voters and unfavorably by 4%; while Budd was viewed favorably by 16% and unfavorably by 5%.
In a hypothetical three-way matchup, McCrory held a large lead with 48%, compared to 13% for Walker and 9% for Budd. He also led both potential opponents in one-on-one matchups.
The poll surveyed 500 likely Republican primary voters from April 6-8, with a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Democrats are attempting to win the contest after failing to unseat Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in the election last November.
State Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Sen. Erica Smith are in the race for the Democratic primary so far. In addition, Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, is expected to run and could begin a campaign soon.
Former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham, who has never run for elected office, is also considering a bid for the Democratic nomination.