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Rep. Ted Budd talks issues, possible Trump endorsement in 2022 U.S. Senate race

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Congressman Ted Budd, a Republican and Davie County native who announced his run for U.S. Senate last week, says he’s focused on issues of election integrity, national spending and border security for the 2022 election.

Budd currently represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, which includes Rowan County, and joined a primary field that includes former Gov. Pat McCrory and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who seek to fill Sen. Richard Burr’s seat. Burr has served since 2005 and says he will not run for another term.

Notable Democrats in the race include former state Sen. Erica Smith, Sen. Jeff Jackson of Mecklenburg County and former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

Budd entered the 2016 primary as a political newcomer before being elected to serve the new 13th Congressional District — making it through a primary loaded with 17 Republican candidates. After relying on the guidance of friends and family, Budd said he felt led by God to make a run for the Senate.

“I represent 10 counties right now, but when you look at all 100 counties, I think I can represent them well,” he said. “I believe people want somebody that is not a career politician and just understands what people face each and every day.”

Budd says he’s focusing on a restored trust across the ideological spectrum in “free and fair elections” and ways to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. To do so calls for opposing House Resolution 1, he said, which is a comprehensive voting, elections and ethics bill hailed by Democrats as an expansion of voting rights and a major overhaul of campaign finance and redistricting laws. Included in the bill is national voter registration and mail-in voting standards, nonpartisan redistricting commissions, public disclosure of “dark money” in campaign financing, an ethics code for Supreme Court justices and a requirement for presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

Budd was among the GOP lawmakers in January who cast a vote to overturn results of the 2020 general election. Just a month prior, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the U.S. Department of Justice found no evidence of widespread election fraud that would change the results of the election.

Budd said he’s concerned with the nation’s spending, adding the latest wave of COVID-19 relief passed in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan included little related to COVID-19 spending. Likewise, President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, he said, has little to do with infrastructure.

“I think (Democrats) are deceiving the public with these bills and trying to just throw what might be perceived as free money out into the market, or out into people’s pockets,” Budd said. “But it actually destroys their future opportunity.”

Budd credited the previous administration with implementing “enforcement first” at the nation’s southern border and blames the Biden administration for incentivizing tens of thousands of undocumented minors to come to America, creating a “humanitarian crisis.”

Together, these primary issues comprise Budd’s “America First” agenda.

While Budd aligned himself with the 45th president in his campaign video with snippets of praise and endorsements, he recognizes family comes first, particularly if Trump’s daughter-in-law and North Carolina native Lara Trump decides to join the race.

“I’ve got a great relationship with the Trump family,” Budd said when asked about whether the former president will endorse him. “And I have supported them. They have supported me. I don’t know, but I can tell you right now that I’m for sure in the race and that if Lara is not in, I would certainly hope for the support.”

Though his “style” is still different from a president with an upbringing in New York City, Budd said the policies that work in New York work in North Carolina and all areas of the country regardless of ethnic background, he said.

Budd cited his upbringing on his family farm in Davie County and experience as a small business owner, which allows him to serve people well across the state and represent them in the Senate.

“I know how to navigate a very tough race, but when you look at me as an individual, I’m not a career politician,” Budd said. “I’m a small business person, I made payroll and created jobs. I know what it’s like to pay those quarterly taxes. I know what it’s like to unload trucks in 100-degree weather with 120 degrees or more inside the truck.”

In the primary, Budd could have a difficult time facing McCrory, a Republican with prominent name recognition across the state. When McCrory announced his run for the Senate seat last month, his campaign released polling data that showed he had 89% name identification among likely Republican primary voters in the state compared to 32% for Walker and Budd.

Jonathan Felts, senior adviser to the Budd campaign, told the Post last week the Davie County Republican didn’t have polling data to release. Still, Felts said, it’s not surprising that “someone who’s been on a statewide ballot six different times will probably have a higher name ID right now.” Felts said he’s confident Budd can win over voters with his contrasting vision on the campaign trail.

Additionally, with more Americans receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, Felts said, he’s looking forward to more in-person opportunities on the campaign trail and credits Budd with a rich pool of resources to get out his message.

“I think we need somebody with real-world experience in the Senate rather than a typical politician, and I’d like to be the one that makes the difference,” Budd said.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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