CHARLOTTE – Well, the long speculated has now become reality with former Governor Pat McCrory’s announcement that he will enter the 2022 race for U.S. Senate. The former seven-term Mayor of Charlotte made it official via his morning talk radio show, following through on a plan he began mentioning at least three years ago.
McCrory joins a host of others, of course, some officially running and others testing the waters. Former Congressman Mark Walker has officially been in the race the longest, announcing in December of last year; Congressman Ted Budd appears poised to enter the race; and, even NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, arguably the most popular politician in the state, is mulling a 2022 Senate run. Additionally, there’s an outside chance that Lara Trump, who has teased a run, could enter the race.
Despite the growing field, McCrory exuded confidence when speaking to the Associated Press on Wednesday:
“I’m no doubt the best one for the job based upon all the candidates who are even thinking about running, because I’ve actually had to make some tough decisions. Washington right now is just broken and it needs fixing. And I think they need someone from outside of Washington … who’s actually been a problem solver and done the job.”
Despite Walker’s head start on the campaign trail and with important local endorsements, McCrory seemingly enters the race ahead of any official competition. He is simply the most well known; and his disposition as a gregarious, likable leader, makes him eminently palatable to a large swath of Republican primary voters.
That support isn’t pure throughout, however, as plenty of voters have mixed feelings on McCrory for their own reasons. Whether or not that will make the ultimate difference is anyone’s guess. Walker has started attacking McCrory earlier this week, a clear indication of the latter’s status in the competition.
As far as popularity, it seems only Robinson or Lara Trump could eclipse McCrory with Republican primary voters. That is, if either of them were to actually enter the race. Robinson is in many ways a 2024 gubernatorial candidate in the eyes of so many voters, wanting him to turn leadership around here at home. Trump, too, could be open to alternative future political opportunities beyond the Senate race. Notably, North Carolina will add an additional seat in congress after the census redistricting is complete.
So, while not every potential candidate is in, it’s still shaping up to be a very active primary season across North Carolina.