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@NCCapitol

Sources: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson looking at US Senate race

Posted April 14, 2021 10:17 a.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2021 7:01 p.m. EDT

— Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, one of the more popular Republican politicians in North Carolina, is "seriously considering" a jump into the state's 2022 U.S. Senate race, a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.

A second source, a Republican operative in the state, also said Robinson is "seriously considering" the move, that he reached out to other senior elected Republicans about it and that he "has been encouraged to enter." Both sources asked that their names not be used, but one is a spokesperson for Robinson himself and the other a well-known operative.

Other signs point to his interest as well. A survey of likely GOP primary voters, taken earlier this month, indicates Robinson could be a front-runner in the race, if former President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, stays out.

Lara Trump, who lives out of state but was born in Wilmington and attended North Carolina State University, leads the potential GOP field in a primary to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, according to the survey from GOP firm Cygnal.

Robinson came in second with 20 percent support. Former Gov. Pat McCrory, who made his move into the race official on Wednesday, came in at 14 percent. Former Congressman Mark Walker, who jumped into the race late last year, surveyed at 3 percent.

Cygnal poll of 2022 U.S. Senate Republican Primary, April 2021.

Spokespeople for Walker and McCrory declined to comment for this story. Cygnal's report describes itself as a "probabilistic survey" of 600 likely 2022 GOP primary voters, with a margin of error of +/-4 percent, weighted to the likely 2022 GOP primary voter universe.

Former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who lost last year's race for governor, came in at just under 13 percent. His spokesman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment, but there's no public indication he's considering the Senate race.

Republican 13th District Congressman Ted Budd has also been expected to get into the race, though he has not announced. He came in about 3 percent in the Cygnal survey.

WRAL News could not immediately confirm who commissioned the survey, but at one point, the survey asked: "Do you approve or disapprove of the job Mark Robinson is doing as Lt. Governor?"

Robinson is the only politician about whom such a question was asked.

At least one member of North Carolina's congressional delegation would welcome Robinson to the race.

"No more perfect candidate for this time," Charlotte area Republican Dan Bishop said on Twitter Wednesday morning. "Bring it."

The survey shows continued high support among North Carolina Republicans for former President Trump, who had 75 percent net favorability. Lara Trump and Forest came in upwards of 60 percent, with Robinson (53 percent) and McCrory (50 percent) next.

Robinson shocked the political establishment last year, winning a nine-way race for the Republican nomination in the lieutenant governor's race, even though it was his first bid for elected office. He then won the general election, becoming North Carolina's first Black lieutenant governor.

In that role, he presides over the North Carolina Senate. He's also on the State Board of Education, where he has railed against "indoctrination" in public schools. His political rise began with a fiery speech on gun rights before the Greensboro City Council, which went viral.

He's also been criticized over mean-spirited social media comments, some deemed anti-Semitic, that he made before running for office. Robinson has since said he stands by those posts.

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