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North Carolina voters choose primary winners in key Senate, House races

Upstart GOP Representative Madison Cawthorn conceded his race for reelection the same night that the state’s Democrats chose a former state Supreme Court justice to square off against a Republican U.S. House representative in the November election.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) — North Carolina voters chose the outcome of several high-profile political races while casting their ballots in Tuesday’s statewide primary elections.

Less than 20 minutes after polls closed at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, it was clear who voters in the Tarheel State had chosen to square off in a key U.S. Senate race: former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is set to run in the state’s general election against Republican State Representative Ted Budd.

The majority of Democratic leaders had consolidated behind Beasley, who will become the sole Black woman serving in the U.S. Senate if she wins the November election.

The former justice garnered 81% of the Democratic vote on Tuesday. The closest Democrat behind Beasley was James Carr at 3.6% of the vote.

Budd, a Trump favorite who has represented the state’s 13th Congressional District since 2017, declined to partake in several debates against his Republican primary foes. 

Primary contenders for the Senate seat including former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, the second-place candidate on Tuesday, and former state congressman from Greensboro, Mark Walter, teamed up to use Budd’s lack of debate participation against the longtime frontrunner.

They were no match, however, to Budd’s Trump endorsement and to the major outside spending that boosted his campaign. 

Per the Associated Press, when 98.7% of the votes were counted, Budd enjoyed the support of 58.6% of Republican votes, followed by McCrory at 24.6% and Walker at 9.2%.

The Club For Growth Super PAC spent more than any other group during North Carolina’s 2022 primary season, and funneled almost $12 million into attack advertisements launched against McCrory and Walker.

The state’s 14 U.S. House districts are also at stake in this primary election.

In the 11th Congressional District, U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn surprised the nation by falling behind fellow GOP challenger Chuck Edwards, a state senator.

At 10:15 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Edwards was up 33.5% to Cawthorn’s 31.7%. Late in the evening, trailing by about 1,600 votes, Cawthorn conceded.

“This is simply incredible,” Edwards said in a statement on Tuesday. “Against all odds, we fought hard to win this election and provide clear conservative leadership for the mountains.”

Cawthorn is a stalwart Trump supporter who has been endorsed by the former president for his apparent willingness to spread lies surrounding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

After Democratic President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Cawthorn spoke at the infamous pro-Trump rally near the U.S. Capitol that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt by minutes.

The young GOP sweetheart was expected by many political scientists, including North Carolina State University professor Steven Greene, to win the district over his closest challenger.

Edwards, who was endorsed by Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, will be up against Democratic candidate Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in the general election. 

Beach-Ferrara, currently a county commissioner, is a gay woman, Christian minister and mother of three .

On Tuesday evening, Beach-Ferrara had garnered 59.7% of the Democratic vote. Her closest challenger, Katie Dean, was trailing at 25.7%.

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