Rowan, Cabarrus, Stanly GOP host U.S. Senate forum in Gold Hill for registered Republicans only

Published 4:13 pm Monday, October 25, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Republican parties of Rowan, Stanly and Cabarrus counties hosted a U.S. Senate primary forum Saturday night that was closed to the general public and media.

The forum was held at Morgan Ridge Vineyards in Gold Hill and required the purchase of tickets and a Republican voter registration. It featured Republican candidates who are vying for a seat that will be left by Sen. Richard Burr, who won’t seek re-election in 2022. The forum was advertised as including U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, Jennifer Banwart, Kenneth Harper and Zach Potter.

Rev. Brad Jenkins, chairman of Rowan County’s Republican party, said an invitation was also sent to former Gov. Pat McCrory, but his campaign never responded. McCrory’s campaign also didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Post. Jenkins said Budd canceled his attendance at the last minute.

Jonathan Felts, senior adviser with Budd’s campaign, told the Post Budd spent his Friday and Saturday evenings campaigning with U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, who represents North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, during a rally in Union County. Both Jordan and Bishop have endorsed Budd’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

“The rally in Union County was called out as the first major campaign rally of 2022,” Felts said.

Felts also said candidates didn’t have any input on the style of the forum, but the campaign was informed local media would be present.

Jenkins said he didn’t directly communicate with Budd’s campaign, but leaders from the parties decided to close the event to allow Republicans space to get to know the candidates more personally and ask questions ahead of the primary election. He said the parties plan to host a public forum at the beginning of 2022 ahead of the primary election in March and after the filing period has closed.

Jenkins said a little more than 100 people were in attendance and candidates did a good job of articulating their platforms to voters. He said candidates were sharp, which is encouraging.

“No matter who wins the Senate, it’s encouraging to know it’s going to be the strongest pro-American candidate,” Jenkins said.

A “straw poll,” or unofficial vote, was taken after candidates spoke. Jenkins said Walker won, and the former congressman touted the win on social media

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.