“Beasley has served this state honorably for over two decades and has always fought for justice," Jackson said in a statement. “She’ll be a great U.S. senator for North Carolina.
“Unlike the Republicans in this race, we won’t be participating in a costly and divisive primary. If we’re going to flip this seat in November, we need to unite—and we need to unite behind Cheri.”
WRAL News was the first to report Jackson's plans to leave the race. Sources told WRAL on Wednesday that Jackson had spent part of the day calling donors to inform them of his decision
But Michael Bitzer, a Catawba College politics professor, said Jackson’s poll numbers showed he would have an uphill battle against Beasley.
“With the extension of the primary and an added two months, that really put things into a greater context for Jackson and [he] just realized the historic nature of Beasley's candidacy and the role that African American women play in Democratic Party politics,” Bitzer said.
Beasley is the first Black woman to serve as chief justice of the state Supreme Court. She’s also expected to be the first Black woman nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina.
Beasley said in a statement Thursday that the election is "bigger than any one person."
“Senator Jackson brought attention to the issues important to so many North Carolinians, and I know he will continue to do meaningful work in the state Senate," she said. "I’m grateful to have his support in this race."
He's at least the second Democrat to drop out of the race. Former state Sen. Erica Smith said last month that she would leave the Senate race and run for the U.S. House instead, seeking to replace retiring Democratic 1st District Congressman G.K. Butterfield.
The Democratic field also includes Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton and others.
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.