After Donald Trump’s endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd in June in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary field failed to make him the clear frontrunner, the former president brokered a deal over the weekend that bolsters Budd’s chances significantly, Politico reported on Monday.
As part of the arrangement agreed upon during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, Trump pledged to endorse former GOP Rep. Mark Walker, who is currently in third place in the Senate primary, if he drops out of the contest and runs again for the House instead of in the state’s 7th District.
The agreement was deemed necessary because, despite Trump’s endorsement and the multimillion-dollar backing from Club for Growth’s super PAC, Budd continued to trail in polls for the GOP Senate primary behind former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.
The main problem, apparently, was that Walker was siphoning support from Budd because he is also campaigning as a Trump loyalist, while McCrory has more appeal to GOP moderates.
As part of the deal to boost Walker’s chances in the 7th District GOP primary, Bo Hines, who was campaigning as a candidate in that district, will receive Trump’s endorsement to run in the 4th Congressional District instead.
Commenting on the deal, Jack Minor, Walker’s former chief of staff said that “Trump offered Walker the endorsement, and it’s expected to get rolled out this week.”
However, Jordan Shaw, an adviser to McCrory’s campaign, told Politico that the entire premise that Budd will benefit from Walker bowing out of the Senate race is mistaken.
“Our polls show that Gov. McCrory’s large lead expands in this scenario,” he said. “That’s because Walker’s supporters want someone who isn’t bought, paid for, wholly owned and operated by a D.C. special interest group. That obviously eliminates Congressman Budd and benefits Gov. McCrory.”
According to a McCrory internal polling memo from two months ago, the former governor is ahead by 15 percentage points in the three-way race. Shaw said the survey also found that McCrory’s advantage increased by another point in a head-to-head matchup with Budd.
However, a poll commissioned by the Club for Growth last month gave McCrory only a lead of three percentage points.