RALEIGH – Debates can serve to distinguish, or mar, a candidate’s campaign from others in the eyes of interested voters. That could especially be the case for the 2022 GOP Senate Primary between former Governor Pat McCrory, former Congressman Mark Walker, and Congressman Ted Budd.
The Charlotte Observer reports that at least two of the candidates are interested in participating in multiple debates.
“[…] two of the top three Republican candidates for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race have agreed to a debate this fall.
The debate, proposed by former governor and Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, would be one of three, if the candidates are successful in organizing. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker agreed to take the stage with McCrory, saying on Facebook: “Thought you’d never ask.”
An advisor to Rep. Ted Budd’s campaign said in a statement, “It’s a bit early in the process for that discussion just yet.” Budd hasn’t committed to participating in a debate before the Republican primary. He said that Budd was currently focused on meeting voters and asking for their support. […]”
The three-man race to challenge the Democrat nominee in replacing retiring Senator Richard Burr (R) has all the ingredients of a doozy. McCrory seems to have a lead, and is well known across the state; Walker has been criss-crossing Carolina earning local support; and, Congressman Budd busted on to the scene with a huge endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
As such, the primary voter base can be forgiven for not quite knowing which way to go on this one, and a debate could serve to clarify preferences in a big way.
Calling into a Raleigh-area radio show Thursday, Walker, who’s been campaigning the longest, reiterated his interest holding multiple debates. His preference? FIVE debates; one on the coast, one in the mountains, and three throughout the major metropolitan centers of the state. The former congressman, arguably outgunned by McCrory’s popular appeal and Budd’s Trump endorsement, smartly views the debates as a distinguishing factor to further raise his profile in the eyes of undecided voters.
Walker also stated that he and McCrory will have the debate regardless of whether or not Budd decides to join them.