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Beasley, McCrory on top in latest Senate fundraising reports

By BRYAN ANDERSON

Associated Press/Report for America

RALEIGH (AP) — Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and ex-Gov. Pat McCrory brought in the most money in their respective Democratic and Republican primary bids for an open 2022 U.S. Senate seat, new campaign finance reports show.

The more than $1.2 million each candidate raised in the latest reporting period shows their ability to gain sizable financial support in what could become the costliest midterm race in the country next year.

The bid to fill the seat GOP Sen. Richard Burr is vacating may have serious political consequences. The outcome could determine whether Democrats retain control of the Senate. If Republicans win back the chamber, they’d be poised to more easily thwart President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

“We’ve proven that we’re winning big in the polls and dominating the competition in fundraising,” McCrory said in a statement.

Beasley’s campaign, which launched in late April and two weeks after McCrory’s, boasted it outraised the entire field for the fundraising period from April to June.

Other candidates also raised large sums of money and remain competitive.

Beasley’s top Democratic rival, state Sen. Jeff Jackson, raised a similar amount of money during his first two months as a candidate, when he got almost $1.3 million from the time he entered the race in late January to the end of March. But Jackson’s numbers lagged in the most recent reporting stretch. He raised more than $718,000 between April and June. Despite having been in the race three months longer than Beasley, he entered July with a cash advantage of less than $32,000.

Dylan Arant, a spokesperson for Jackson’s campaign, said donations in the latest quarter came from residents in more North Carolina counties and in smaller amounts than Beasley’s, reflecting a larger base of grassroots supporters.

McCrory is facing two main competitors in the Republican primary, both of whom trailed in fundraising.

Despite securing a high-profile endorsement from former President Donald Trump last month, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd raised about $500,000 less from individuals and political action committees than McCrory between April and June. His campaign took in more than $950,000, including $250,000 through a personal loan Budd made to his campaign.

McCrory’s campaign called Budd’s fundraising haul “shockingly weak.”

Still, the congressman entered July with more than $1.7 million in the bank, well ahead of the $955,000 in cash at McCrory’s disposal.

Jonathan Felts, senior advisor to Budd’s campaign, said in a news release that McCrory “has the deft touch of a tier-one professional politician when it comes to working over fat cats.”

Felts noted the campaign expected it would take all of 2021 to eliminate McCrory’s financial advantage.

“We’ve eliminated the McCrory money advantage six months ahead of schedule and that’s going to allow us to accelerate our campaign buildout,” Felts said.

But other candidates find themselves lagging well behind in fundraising.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who entered the race in December 2020, only received about $200,000 between April and June. Of the three top GOP candidates, he has the least amount of money available to him, having entered July with nearly $927,000.

Former Democratic state Sen. Erica Smith raised a meager $113,000. She has less than $56,000 cash on hand and $52,000 in unpaid bills.

The candidates submitted their latest quarterly fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday and will report again in three months.

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Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson.

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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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