By Cash Michaels –
As we said back in May before the primaries about Beasley’s chances, “Republicans are hopeful that voters in North Carolina’s rural areas will continue their rejection of Democratic candidates come election time.”
Couple that with the national Democratic Party basically ignoring the Beasley-Budd race in favor of the more high profile US Senate contests in Pennsylvania and Georgia—meaning less campaign money flowing in from out of state and less defensive/offensive campaign advertising from Democratic political action committees. With almost no help from top-of-the-line Democratic firepower like former President Barack Obama (he did cut a last-minute campaign commercial), or Oprah Winfrey, the “Beasley for Senate” campaign can only be credited with fighting its heart out for a losing cause.
Beasley, the former Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, was an exceptional moderate Democrat candidate, and she portrayed herself accordingly, promising to fight for regular people when it came to lowering healthcare costs, standing up for voting rights, and helping working families.
But again, as predicted, the Budd campaign and associated conservative groups, falsely and successfully portrayed Beasley as a former judge responsible for putting sex offenders and rapists back on the streets to commit crime, supporting President Biden’s inflationary policies, and someone who can’t be trusted to look out for North Carolina families.
Beasley not only needed to defend herself, but be able to strike back at Budd, and she attempted to do so by citing his record as a do-nothing-congressman who was only out for himself.
But it wasn’t enough. While Budd’s supporting groups flooded the airwaves with charge after baseless charge against Beasley, her campaign was not able to nearly match the onslaught dollar for dollar.
As we warned last May, “If Budd is to be successfully attacked, the Democratic Party and other outside groups will have to do it for Beasley.” That really didn’t happen, and the Budd forces successfully defined Cheri Beasley in the minds of North Carolina voters before she knew it.
Beasley did well attracting votes from the state’s urban areas like Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford, and Durham counties. But her electoral ship ran aground in the rural areas, where staunch Republicans and unaffiliateds bought Budd’s portrayal of her as a Democrat not to be trusted. Given former Pres. Donald Trump’s ringing endorsement of Budd, especially during a raucous rally in Wilmington last summer, that’s all the rural folks needed to hear to vote “no” on Cheri Beasley.
Ironically, Ted Budd did not have the campaign war chest that Cheri Beasley had—approximately $12 million to her $34 million—but in the end, he didn’t need it. With conservative outside groups forming the front line of attack, all Budd had to do was make sure he didn’t say anything stupid to get himself into trouble. That strategy helped him pull away from a tight contest in the final weeks of the campaign, and unofficially become the next senator from North Carolina come January.
As for Cheri Beasley, she will be at the center of probing questions as to why North Carolina Democrats are always losing to Republicans in big electoral contests.
In her case, the answer is she would have needed an Obama-like turnout across the state—in ALL areas of the state—to overcome the obstacles put before her. But the history books on the midterm elections of November 8, 2022 will record that Democrat Cheri Beasley didn’t fail.
The national and North Carolina Democratic parties failed Cheri Beasley, who could have been the first Democrat since 2008 elected to the US Senate, and North Carolina’s first African American US senator.