Trump Tests His Influence in North Carolina

In April, all but one of the major GOP candidates in the race for North Carolina’s open U.S. Senate seat took the debate stage to make their pitch to voters. But an empty podium stood in for Ted Budd, a U.S. congressman from the state’s 13th District. 

“He’s not for you,” former Gov. Pat McCrory told voters about the missing candidate. “If he were for you, he would be here right now. He’s acting like he’s entitled.”

It wasn’t a new tactic for Budd: He skipped all four of the Republican primary debates. But voters don’t seem likely to punish him for it. Budd has surged to the top of a crowded primary contest, despite challenges from other prominent Republicans, including McCrory and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker. 

Now, Tar Heel State voters are heading to the ballot box Tuesday to pick contenders to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr, as well as weigh in on a number of down-ballot contests. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. across the state.

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