Afghan War Veteran Jeff Jackson Ends Democratic nomination for vacant U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina

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RALEIGH. NC (AP) – A prominent candidate for the US Senate in North Carolina withdrew from next year’s Democratic nomination contest on Thursday and lent his support to the former chief justice of the state, who had the edge in fundraising and supports.

State Senator Jeff Jackson of Charlotte, who announced his candidacy almost a year ago and has built up a loyal following, said in a video posted to social media that voters must now support his main rival Cheri Beasley so the Democrats can win the seat next November. Jackson’s decision appears to put Beasley in control of the nomination.

“An expensive and divisive primary will sink all of this,” Jackson said. “We have to unite right now, and we have to unite behind Cheri.”

Jackson, an Afghan war veteran, National Guard soldier and former local prosecutor with a young family, had campaigned very actively, holding town halls in all 100 counties of North Carolina and over a dozen university campuses. But Jackson acknowledged in the video that Beasley consistently leads him in the polls. She had also garnered great support from Democratic-allied constituencies like Planned Parenthood PAC, Emily’s List and the AFL-CIO.

North Carolina’s currently oldest US House Democrats – Reps GK Butterfield and David Price – last week endorsed Beasley, who was the state’s first black woman to serve as a judge in leader and would be North Carolina’s first elected black senator.

Jackson pointed to Republican gains in the Virginia election last month and what is emerging as a GOP Senate division primary as proof that unity among Democrats was needed to achieve victory in the state narrowly. Split. The election to succeed retired Republican Senator Richard Burr could tip the balance 50-50 in the Senate.

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“We can win this election in November, and we can do it by electing someone who will make history and someone who sees work as a public service and not just a big partisan game,” Jackson said while by endorsing Beasley as a “presumed candidate”. “At least two former Democratic Senate candidates – former State Senator Erica Smith and virologist Richard Watkins – left the field last month and are now running for the United States House.

Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton and Constance “Lov” Johnson of Charlotte applied for the Democratic nomination to state election officials last week before the state Supreme Court postponed the primary from March 8 to May 17 while judges rule on redistribution disputes.

Beasley, who entered the race in April, has been the top fundraiser among all contenders for Burr’s seat for the past two quarters. Beasley’s campaign had nearly $ 1.7 million in the bank as of October, while Jackson had nearly $ 1.2 million.

In addition to the fundraising pressures, an additional 10 weeks of primary campaigning could also have caused Jackson to turn negative against Beasley, said Michael Bitzer, professor of political science at Catawba College.

“I was surprised at the [announcement’s] timing, but I think the inevitable writing on the wall probably pushed him to a point where he had to make a decision, ”Bitzer said in an interview.

Getting out now could help Jackson, 39, build party goodwill in the years to come with a future statewide bid, Bitzer said. The seat of North Carolina’s other senator, Republican Senator Thom Tillis, is not eligible for re-election until 2026.

Jackson alerted key supporters and donors to his move on Wednesday, according to several Democrats. Beasley was ready Thursday with her own press release thanking Jackson for the approval. “Sen. Jackson has drawn attention to issues important to so many North Carolinians, and I know he will continue to do meaningful work in the State Senate,” she said. Jackson and Beasley on Thursday recorded a joint appearance for a political affairs show on cable’s Spectrum News 1 North Carolina.

The Republican primary for Burr’s seat has intensified in recent weeks, as former Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker pushed U.S. Representative Ted Budd to agree to a debate schedule. Budd, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump, has received backing from the Washington-based Club for Growth Action. The Political Action Committee sent out a 12-page full-color direct mail and broadcast television commercials attacking McCrory in order to help Budd.

Burr angered the Trump camp when the Senate Intelligence Committee under his chairmanship produced a bipartisan report in 2020 concluding that Russia had interfered in Trump’s favor in the 2016 US election.

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Nolley said in a press release Jackson had withdrawn from the race because he “saw the writing on the wall and knew the Democrats would be defeated in 2022 because of their crises of inflation, immigration and Afghanistan. “

MarketWatch has contributed to this.

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