Democrat Jeff Jackson drops out of 2022 U.S. Senate race
Updated at 12:03 p.m.
The field of candidates angling for a coveted U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina just got smaller.
Democrat Jeff Jackson confirmed in an announcement on social media Thursday morning that he is dropping out of the 2022 election.
"We've run a strong campaign but everyone needs to know when to step aside," said Jackson in a video released on social media.
Jackson is endorsing Cheri Beasley, the other leading Democrat seeking the nomination in this race to replace the retiring Richard Burr.
"Cheri Beasley is consistently leading in the polls. She has also served this state honorably for over two decades and has always fought on the side of justice," said Jackson. "A costly and divisive primary will sink this whole," he added.
A state senator, Jackson, 39, is a Charlotte business attorney, Afghan war veteran and National Guard soldier.
He unveiled his bid to run back in January 2021 and was the second Democrat to enter the race, just behind Erica Smith. She dropped out of the race last month to launch a congressional bid to replace Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who has said he will not seek another term in office to represent North Carolina’s 1st District.
Jackson appeared on the WUNC Politics Podcast just last week, but he and staffers failed to answer questions about how much money the campaign still has available, or provide a complete list of endorsements. Earlier this week, U.S. House members Butterfield and David Price joined Alma Adams in supporting Beasley, a former Chief Justice of the state supreme court.
“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. I’m grateful to have his support in this race,” Beasley said in a statement. “This election is bigger than any one person. It is about the people of our state, and having a Senator who will fight to lower health care costs, create good-paying jobs, take action on climate change, and work hard for every person in our state - no matter what your zip code is or how much money you make."
The primary for the 2022 Senate race has been delayed for two months, as courts consider gerrymandered districts. That delay that had compounded some of Jacksons’ campaign challenges.
Burr, 66, has represented North Carolina in the senate since 2005. The last Democrat elected to the senate from North Carolina was Kay Hagan, who served from 2009 to 2015. She lost in the 2014 election to Thom Tillis, who narrowly defeated Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham last November to hang on to his seat. The Tillis and Cunningham campaigns, and outside groups, spent $287 million combined in the race.
On the Republican side of the 2022 race, the field still includes former Gov. Pat McCrory, Rep. Ted Budd of the 13th District, and Mark Walker, a former congressman.
WUNC's Laura Pellicer contributed to this report.