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Democrats Funnel Money to North Carolina in Hopes of Sneaky Senate Upset

Newsweek 10/18/2022 Andrew Stanton
In this image, Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaks with voters in Charlotte on September 17, 2022. The leadership-aligned Senate Majority Pac funneled $4 million into an ad buy to boost Beasley as Democrats hope to retain control of the Senate. © Sean Rayford/Getty Images In this image, Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaks with voters in Charlotte on September 17, 2022. The leadership-aligned Senate Majority Pac funneled $4 million into an ad buy to boost Beasley as Democrats hope to retain control of the Senate.

With three weeks until the midterm elections, Democrats are funneling money to North Carolina's Senate race to bolster Cheri Beasley, who is locked in a tight race against Donald Trump-backed Representative Ted Budd.

Democrats vying to retain control of the Senate see North Carolina as one of their top opportunities to pick up a seat, as GOP Senator Richard Burr is retiring, and Trump only won a narrow victory in North Carolina in 2020.

The Democrats are banking on former state Supreme Court Justice Beasley to deliver a victory in the Tar Heel state. She is set to face Budd, a Trump ally who currently represents North Carolina's 13th Congressional District.

The North Carolina race is one of a handful that national Democrats are zeroing in on as the election grows closer with Beasley bringing in impressive fundraising and remaining competitive in polls.

The Senate Majority Pac, which is aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, announced last week plans to funnel $4 million into North Carolina's Senate race, a signal that the Democrats see the race as a prime opportunity to flip the seat.

The $4 million ad campaign features a 30-second TV advertisement attacking Budd for his position on abortion. It features a doctor who calls attention to Budd's abortion policy. Budd does not support abortion rights, and his campaign website pledges that he will protect the "sanctity of life."

Democrats have hammered Republicans on abortion rights. The Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade galvanized liberal voters, and Democrats have sought to use the issue to turn independent, moderate women from the Republican Party, which has largely embraced anti-abortion policies.

In a state divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans, the ad aims to use concerns about abortion to convince voters to back Beasley.

"Budd would criminalize abortion, which would put doctors like me in jail," Doctor Erica Pettigrew, M.D. said in the ad.

North Carolina voters are split on abortion, though polls have indicated a plurality back abortion rights. A September Emerson College poll found that 39 percent of North Carolina voters supported laws to make it easier to access abortion, while only 32 percent supported laws restricting abortion access.

Cheri Beasley's Chances of Winning According to Polls

The ad buy comes as Beasley continues to see competitive poll numbers, though she still narrowly trails Budd. An East Carolina University poll conducted from October 10 to 13 among 902 likely voters found Budd winning by about six percentage points. Budd won support from 50 percent of poll respondents, while 44 percent said they would vote for Beasley. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

A WRAL-TV poll conducted from September 28 to October 2 among 677 likely voters had a closer result. It found Budd with a single-point lead, winning 43 percent of support compared to 42 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Even as Budd holds a narrow poll lead, Beasley has notably raised more than twice the amount of money as him. In total, she has raised about $29 million, while Budd has raised about $11 million. According to OpenSecrets, which tracks money in politics, about 53 percent of Beasley's funds have come from out of North Carolina.

Budd, meanwhile, has received the support of Trump, who held a rally to boost him and other Republican candidates in late September.

North Carolina backed Trump by only 1.3 percentage points in 2020. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, meanwhile, won by 4.5 points that same year.

Newsweek reached out to the Beasley and Budd campaigns for comment.

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