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Politics

2022 North Carolina Primary: Breaking down statewide races

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Elizabeth Baier

WUNC has all the coverage you need this election season. Be sure to check out our Races To Watch stories for everything you need to know about candidates in statewide, congressional, legislative and municipal elections. Subscribe to WUNC's Politics Podcast and follow reporters Rusty Jacobs and Jeff Tiberii on Twitter.


North Carolina's 2022 Primary will take place on May 17, which is 70 days after its originally scheduled date of March 8 due to a court-ordered delay, born out of redistricting litigation.

This primary will include 17 days of early voting — which begins April 28 — and elections in all 100 North Carolina counties. In the last mid-term four years ago, 53% of all registered voters cast ballots.

However, that 2018 cycle included zero U.S. Senate races. This election season has a very high-profile Senate race, one that could inform the rest of the nation about how much influence former President Donald Trump still has on voters.

Other statewide races in this primary cycle include a few at the judiciary level for North Carolina. Up for grabs are seats on the N.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

U.S. Senate

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Campaign Photo
Former North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley will run as a Democrat in the 2022 U.S. Senate race.
 From left to right: Ted Budd, Pat McCrory, Mark Walker, Marjorie Eastman
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WUNC Composite
From left to right: Ted Budd, Pat McCrory, Mark Walker, Marjorie Eastman

The contest to replace the retiring Republican Richard Burr includes 25 candidates.

The overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nod is Cheri Beasley, a former Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. Despite losing her 2020 re-election bid to the state court’s highest seat, Beasley has shown a strong fundraising ability in her bid to become just the third Black woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.

While Beasley is the presumptive nominee on the left, the Republican side is packed and competitive. The primary field is led by Congressman Ted Budd, former Governor Pat McCrory, former Congressman Mark Walker, and political newcomer Majorie Eastman — a U.S. Army veteran who has raised some significant cash.

Budd and McCrory are widely seen as the top two frontrunners. Budd has been aided by some $15 million outside spending by the ultra conservative group Club For Growth. Budd has also attempted to walk the line of accepting, if not embracing, all that comes with an endorsement from Trump. Budd was also recently endorsed by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who said of McCrory in an ad, “Pat’s a nice guy, but he’s no conservative.” McCrory, whose campaign reported it had raised $1.13 million through March 31, is seen as the traditional GOP standard-bearer in the state.

How Budd fairs in the primary — and perhaps the general — could say a lot about the future of the Republican party in the state, and how powerful a Trump endorsement still is.

Presently, both of North Carolina's U.S. Senate seats, and eight of its 13 U.S. House seats, are held by Republicans.

Judicial

In this election season, there are seats up for grabs on the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. There are no Democratic primaries for any of the openings this year, but there are three for Republicans.

 From left to right: Victoria E. Prince, April C. Wood, Trey Allen
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WUNC Composite
The Republican candidates for Seat No. 5 on the N.C. Supreme Court. From left to right: Victoria E. Prince, April C. Wood, Trey Allen.

The GOP-aligned folks who are running for Associate Justice Seat 5 on the state’s highest court include Victoria E. Prince, April C. Wood and Trey Allen.

Wood was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2020. Allen is a UNC-Chapel Hill professor and a former clerk of Chief Justice Paul Newby, who appointed Allen as general counsel for the state Administrative Office of the Courts. Campaign information for Prince is difficult to find, but according to her LinkedIn, she is a graduate of Elon University’s School of Law and currently works at Lexington-based Penry Terry & Mitchell LLP.

The winner of this Republican primary will face Democrat incumbent Sam Ervin IV in the general election. Ervin has served on the court since 2015. At stake in this race is the Democrat’s 4-3 majority on the state’s highest court.

Another associate justice, Robin E. Hudson, is not seeking re-election — calling it quits two years before she faces mandatory retirement. There isn’t a primary for either party in this race. Democrat Lucy N. Inman will face Republican Richard Dietz in the general election. Both currently serve on the Court of Appeals.

There are two primaries for seats on the Court of Appeals. For Seat No. 9, Republicans Beth Freshwater Smith and Donna Stroud face off. Stroud is the incumbent and has been on the court since 2007. Smith has been a District Court Judge since 2017.

For Seat No. 11, it’s Michael J. Stading vs. Charlton L. Allen in a battle of Republicans. Stading has been a District Court Judge since 2019, while Allen is a private practice attorney and certified mediator who unsuccessfully ran for an N.C. House seat in 2012.

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