Conventional wisdom has decreed that Democrats are likely to lose their congressional majorities in the 2022 midterm elections. But a lot can happen over the next ten months, so it is probably time to get busy weighing in on how we can all ensure that conventional wisdom is proven wrong this time.
In the Senate, not only is it important for Democrats to maintain their 50 seats, the only way to ensure that legislation can actually get passed is to build an actual majority. Maintenance requires that Mark Kelly (AZ), Raphael Warnock (GA), and Catherine Masto (NV) all win re-election in races that are currently considered toss-ups.
But in looking at other Senate races that are possible pick-ups, the one for an open seat in North Carolina (where Richard Burr will not seek re-election) is worth highlighting. Before looking at the candidates for 2022, it is worth noting what has been happening in the state over the last few years.
In 2008, Barack Obama won North Carolina. He went on to lose to Mitt Romney by a narrow margin in 2012. Donald Trump won the state in both 2016 and 2020, just as the same voters chose a Democrat, Roy Cooper, to be their governor. Democrat Cal Cunningham lost the 2020 Senate election to Republican incumbent Thom Tillis by less than 2% after news broke that Cunningham had an extramarital affair.
According to the 2020 census, North Carolina is the fourth fastest growing state in the country, behind only Texas, Arizona, and Florida. While more than half of the state's (mostly rural) counties lost population, 78% of the growth occurred in the two largest metro areas (Raleigh and Wilmington). Virtually all of that growth was in the adult (voting age) population.
For the 2022 election, the Republican primary will likely come down to a contest between former governor Pat McCrory and Representative Ted Budd. Initially McCrory was favored to win, but when Lara Trump announced that she would not run, Donald Trump endorsed Budd at the state's Republican convention last summer. The party faithful are now lining up behind Trump's pick and Budd is leading the race.
It will come as no surprise that, prior to an endorsement from the former guy, Budd demonstrated the kind of loyalty Trump expects. He voted against certification of the 2020 electoral votes and said that the January 6 insurrection "was just patriots standing up.”
At his campaign website, Budd declares himself to be a "liberal agenda crusher." The issues he promotes are standard fare for Republicans these days: cut taxes, support law enforcement, secure the border (ie, build the wall), suppress the vote, defend the 2nd Amendment, and ban abortions. Here's his introductory ad for the campaign: