Budd has been outraged by McCrory, who lost his re-election bid in 2016, and follows him in recent polls – McCrory’s internal poll shows him with a 15-point lead, while data from a pro-Budd super PAC has McCrory ahead by just three points .
Mark Walker, a conservative former congressman who is also seeking nomination from the GOP Senate, has criticized Budd for his inability to lead after leading both Trump’s backing and big bucks from Club for Growth’s super PAC, which plans to spend $ 10 million on Budd.
“They have committed to already spending $ 3 million on television because Trump’s approval of Mr. Budd did not push the needle, as it has in some other states,” Walker said during a WBT radio interview in Charlotte in September. “At some point, people have to ask why.”
Bud’s campaign says their fundraising quickly accelerated after the Trump approval in June, not only from donations to small dollars, but from donors who were previously uninterested in their campaign. Budd heard about the approval a few minutes before Trump announced it on stage at the North Carolina Republican Party’s annual convention this summer, raising questions in state political circles about why Trump decided to support Budd so early in the race and while his name recognition remained low.
Jonathan Felts, a senior adviser to Budd’s campaign, said the Trump approval has been key to Bud’s ability to overtake McCrory. They expected it would take from Budd’s May Senate campaign launched to at least March 2022 to close the fundraising and names ID gap between Budd and McCrory. Now the campaign is almost there, campaign officials say.
“What we had planned to do in 10 months, we got done in six months, thanks to Donald Trump’s support,” Felts said.
The downside, though, is that Budd’s backing from the polarizing former president risks knocking some moderates off, a voting demographic Republican in North Carolina and other rival states should win in November.
Trump has yet to approve in Arizona, another swing state that is crucial to the fight to conquer the Senate majority. But he appeared at a fundraiser for candidate Blake Masters in Mar-a-Lago earlier this month – a day after the Masters released a video declaring “Trump won in 2020”, a statement made in a blatant attempt to secure Trumps support.
In the latest polls, the Masters follows a good distance behind State Attorney Mark Brnovich, whom Trump continues to mock in public for not doing enough to overturn Biden’s victory in Arizona.
This year’s first primary election is still three months away – and Arizona’s is nine months away – so there’s time for Trump’s Senate supporters to build enough momentum to overtake their opponents. At least one of them, retired football star Herschel Walker in Georgia, already has a wide lead and a significant fundraising advantage in the GOP primary.