Democrats Clear North Carolina Senate Primary Field for Beasley

  • State Sen. Jackson cites party unity in decision to drop out
  • North Carolina race will be central to control of the Senate

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Cheri Beasley has emerged as the Democrats’ presumptive nominee in the North Carolina Senate race following the exit Thursday of state Sen. Jeff Jackson.

Beasley, a former state supreme court chief justice, was already coalescing support. But the development means donors will no longer be split over which major candidate to back, and Beasley can focus her message on the general electorate.

She was already backed by three of the state’s Democratic House members and by major party-aligned organizations including EMILY’s List and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. Former state Sen. Erica Smith left the race last month to run for an open House seat and endorsed Beasley.

With Beasley’s superior fundraising and collection of support, Jackson cited the need for party unity to be able to win the swing state in announcing his decision to drop out and endorse Beasley.

“A costly and divisive primary will sink this whole thing,” Jackson said.

A screenshot of Cheri Beasley’s campaign announcement video.

North Carolina is central to the fight for the Senate, which is split 50-50. It’s one of six states with races rated as Tossups by the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.

The move provides a contrast with Republicans, who appear unlikely to avoid a contested nomination fight to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R). That field is led by former Gov. Pat McCrory and Rep. Ted Budd, whom former President Donald Trump endorsed. Former Rep. Mark Walker released a video this week saying he’s considering leaving the Senate race to instead run for the House.

Other Democrats remain in the race, but only Jackson was anywhere close to the nearly $1.7 million Beasley had on hand at the end of September.

“This election is bigger than any one person,” Beasley said in a statement thanking Jackson for his endorsement. “It is about the people of our state, and having a Senator who will fight to lower health care costs, create good-paying jobs, take action on climate change, and work hard for every person in our state—no matter what your zip code is or how much money you make.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyle Trygstad at; Bennett Roth at

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