Home Opinion OPINION: The GOP seems to be consolidating around Budd

OPINION: The GOP seems to be consolidating around Budd

It appears that Republicans are closing ranks around Ted Budd in the U.S. Senate primary. Earlier this week, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced his endorsement and this morning, Budd is running ad with Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson touting his support. I suspect some of the consolidation is an attempt to prevent a costly and divisive runoff, but it begs questions about where the GOP is heading in North Carolina. 

McCrory has never been a favorite of Berger. When the former Charlotte mayor came to Raleigh as governor, Berger essentially rolled him. McCrory didn’t even get his feet wet before Berger let him know who was boss. Berger had McCrory backpedaling on setting up a state Obamacare exchange in the first weeks of his new administration and then Berger overrode the Governor’s veto on several occasions. I suspect Berger sees McCrory as a political lightweight who might be a liability at the top of the ticket in November. 

As for Robinson, he sees himself as the future of the party — an African American reactionary social warrior who burns bridges behind him. Budd using him in an ad may indicate the direction of the party. It certainly says a lot about what the GOP primary electorate believes. Robinson’s support makes sense, though, since Robinson is a product of Trump style of campaigning, using bigotry and petty insults to garner attention and then calling foul when he’s called out. Budd is consolidating the reactionary wing of the party behind him and they make up a majority of the GOP today. 


The Budd-McCrory contest signals a rejection of Reaganism and movement conservativism in favor of the reactionary populism that’s driven by racism and xenophobia. In a low turnout year, Republicans want to motivate as much of the base as possible and nothing seems to excite uneducated White people more than beating up on minorities and owning libs while expressing their victimhood. So, Republicans may be rallying around Budd because they believe he’s a better bet to invigorate the pro-Trump base that didn’t show up in the 2018 midterm. 

Regardless, Budd’s clear momentum in the race is a bad sign for democracy. He’s a relative newcomer to politics with a thin resume and low-profile. He talks in theocratic terms and has embraced the worst instincts of the GOP, following Trump’s lead and centering his campaign around the endorsement. He might be the best candidate to drive out the GOP base but he also might be a liability. If Democrats were smart, they would start to define Budd now as an extremist beholden to Trump’s divisive agenda before he can better define himself. He might be able to excite the GOP base but Democrats could drive a wedge between him and the swing voters who decide elections in North Carolina. 

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Mills spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant. Republished from PoliticsNC.com.