Beasley takes $2M cash advantage over Budd as election nears, but outside spending favors Republicans

North Carolina Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley entered the final weeks of the campaign with more money than her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, but continues to face sizable opposition from outside groups.

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Cheri Beasley responds to questions from Pitt County voters
Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
GREENVILLE, N.C. — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley entered the final weeks of her campaign with a sizable cash advantage over her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, according to newly released campaign finance reports.

The former chief justice of the state Supreme Court took in $4.9 million from Oct. 1 through Oct. 19, while Budd raised $1.5 million. As of Oct. 20, Beasley’s campaign had $3.1 million in the bank, nearly three times more than the Budd campaign’s $1.2 million.

But the nearly $2 million cash edge for Beasley pales in comparison to the sizable outside spending deficit she has in the race. Republican groups are outspending Democratic groups by a 3-to-1 margin. Of the $75.8 million spent thus far in the general election cycle, $56.9 million has gone toward messages that either oppose Beasley or support Budd, while $18.9 million has been spent to either support Beasley or oppose Budd.

Despite the substantial outside spending against her, most recent polls show Beasley in a statistical tie with Budd, although several polls indicate that Budd might have a slight edge within the polls’ margins of error. Beasley said Thursday that attack ads against her are a sign of a successful campaign.

“The reality is Republicans are worried about losing this race, or else they wouldn’t be spending millions and millions of dollars against me to distort my record,” Beasley told reporters during a Thursday night event in Greenville. “They know we can win this race.”

The Senate Majority PAC, which works to elect Democrats to the chamber and is the largest outside spender supporting Beasley, has committed to spend at least $2.1 million to boost Beasley in the final two weeks of the campaign ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
Budd, meanwhile, continues to benefit from substantial outside support. The Senate Leadership Fund, which is seeking to elect Republicans, on Tuesday signed off on $4.4 million in ads against Beasley.

Since both candidates entered the U.S. Senate race in April 2021, Beasley has proven herself a prolific fundraiser. Most of her funds have come from individual donors. Through Oct. 19, she outraised Budd by $21.7 million, bringing in a total haul of $34.3 million compared to Budd’s $12.6 million. Seventy-two percent of Budd’s fundraising came through individual donors, compared to 90% for Beasley.

“This is a winnable race,” Beasley said.

Jonathan Felts, a senior adviser to Budd, said the campaign is confident about its prospects as the election approaches.

“Voters care about who is going to stop skyrocketing inflation and violent crime, not FEC reports,” Felts said in a statement, referring to the Federal Election Commission. “Cheri Beasley has been soft on crime and has embraced Joe Biden’s bad economic policies, and that’s why Ted Budd wins on Election Day.”

Enthusiasm in the race has appeared tepid for both candidates, with neither Budd nor Beasley independently drawing sizable crowds or attracting the kind of national interest as more outspoken U.S. Senate candidates in states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania.

In Greenville on Thursday, Beasley addressed a group of 50 people. During the event, Terence Clemons, a Pitt County resident and custodian, asked the Democrat what she’d do to better the lives of low-income North Carolinans making less than $20,000 a year. She replied that she’d work to set a $15 hourly federal minimum wage and bring down health care costs.

Clemons left the event dissatisfied. While he knows he’ll vote in the Nov. 8 election, the registered unaffiliated voter said he was unsure whether he’d cast his ballot for Beasley or Budd or stay out of the race entirely.

“I’m still undecided,” Clemons said. “She didn’t convince me. The question wasn’t answered.”

Margaret Reid, a registered Democrat, said she views the race as a choice between two flawed candidates, but is voting for Beasley.

“This election is the lesser of two evils,” Reid said. “That’s how I feel for all of the candidates. I’m voting for Cheri Beasley because she’s the lesser of two evils.”

13th Congressional District

In North Carolina’s most competitive congressional district, Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel entered the home stretch of the campaign with a money advantage over Republican political newcomer Bo Hines.

Nickel entered Oct. 20 with nearly $390,000 in his campaign war chest, more than Hines’ almost $157,000. The two made comparable fundraising hauls from Oct. 1 through Oct. 19, with Nickel and Hines bringing in more than $332,000 and $320,000, respectively.

The Triangle seat includes parts of Wake, Wayne and Harnett counties and all of Johnston County. It is considered the state’s lone toss-up seat in the U.S. House and has attracted much national interest.

Both candidates are known as staunch party loyalists but have tried to appeal to more moderate voters since winning their parties’ respective primaries.

The House Majority PAC, which is working to retain Democratic control of the U.S. House, on Wednesday reported spending nearly $30 million on dozens of contests across the country, including almost $721,000 in the 13th district to oppose Hines.

Meanwhile, Club for Growth Action, a Washington, D.C., political group that supports hardline conservatives, told WRAL News it will spend $340,000 on a new television ad against Nickel and an additional $300,000 on mailers. In total, the group has spent nearly $2.5 million to boost Hines this election cycle, including about $1.7 million in the primary and more than $650,000 in the general election.

“No matter how hard Democrats try to run towards the middle, Joe Biden and his radical policies are on the ballot this cycle because every Democrat running would support his agenda,” David McIntosh, the president of Club for Growth Action, said in a statement.

Of the nearly $8 million spent in the congressional race by outside groups in the general election cycle, $4.4 million has gone against Nickel and $3.2 million against Hines.

Meanwhile, the campaigns of Hines and Nickel are running in the red, as Hines loaned his own campaign more than $925,000 and Nickel loaned his campaign $900,000.

With loans included through Oct. 19, Nickel and Hines this election cycle have raised $3.3 million and $2.9 million, respectively.

1st Congressional District

North Carolina’s second-most competitive congressional race includes a wide swath of the eastern part of the state extending from Wilson to Elizabeth City.

Democratic state Sen. Don Davis and Republican businesswoman Sandy Smith have stuck to disciplined messages, with Davis presenting himself as the moderate candidate able to work with Republicans and Smith speaking to voters’ frustrations over the direction of the country after two years of Democratic control of the White House, the U.S. House and a tie-breaking majority in the U.S. Senate.

The 1st Congressional District race is being closely watched and is important to both parties’ pursuit of a U.S. House majority.

The House Majority PAC on Wednesday unveiled plans to spend more than $501,000 spend against Smith. During interviews with WRAL News on Thursday in Pitt County, Davis downplayed the outside group’s involvement in the race and said he’s confident in his chances in the Democratic-leaning district. Smith took the spending as a sign of her strong prospects.

Campaign filings released on Thursday show Davis raised twice as much as Smith from Oct. 1 through Oct. 19 but ended the fundraising period with half the cash she had.

Davis raised nearly $221,000 to Smith’s $104,000. Smith had almost $366,000 in the bank on Oct. 20, while Davis had less than $184,000.

Since the start of the election cycle, Smith has brought in $2.1 million, while Davis has raised $1.8 million.


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