The Pulse

Field notes: Dispatches from the 2022 U.S. Senate election

By: - February 4, 2022 3:19 pm

Field Notes — It’s raining numbers

This was another big numbers week in the race for U.S. Senate and it proved to be every bit the usual Rorschach Test as #ncpol sifted through the end-of-year campaign reports.

Cheri Beasley

Statements were made, triumphs underlined, memes posted and, fairly quickly, two main takeaways from the totals emerged: 1. No one is running away with the GOP primary and; 2. A cleared field in the Democratic primary did about what you’d expect in the way of fundraising for former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

Beasley continues to lead all candidates in total money raised and continues to build her war chest, taking in more than $2.1 million in the fourth quarter as her main rivals, former state Sens. Jeff Jackson and Erica Smith, dropped out of the race.

On the GOP side, the fundraising challenge for all campaigns is adjusting to the change in the election cycle from a quick sprint to March 8 to a longer grind toward May 17.

The end of year totals show Rep. Ted Budd, picking up momentum in the fourth quarter, outraising former Gov. Pat McCrory for the first time, during a period when it looked like the primary would settle into a race between the two of them.

This week, the Budd campaign sought to underlined the momentum, announcing it took in more than $400,000 in January, its biggest monthly haul.

Although the end of year numbers show Budd and McCrory have raised far more than the rest of the GOP field, the dynamics of the race took a sharp turn last week when former congressman Mark Walker announced he was staying in.

Walker’s fundraising report shows a drop in contributions in the fourth quarter, when he considered shifting to a congressional run. That would have put him at a distant third  for the quarter were it not for Marjorie Eastman who took in just over $423,000 since joining the race in early October.

Based on those numbers, Eastman has been making the case that the primary is now a four-way contest.

In addition to her direct fundraising, she also has the backing of Restore Common Sense, a PAC set up in November by GOP megadonor Fred Eshelman that’s spent more than $1.2 million on billboards and social media ads backing Eastman. End of year filing for the PAC lists Eshelman as its sole contributor, making two donations totaling $1,750,000.

Left to right: Pat McCrory, Ted Budd, Mark Walker and Majorie Eastman 

Here’s the fundraising breakdown for each candidate:

  • Cheri Beasley raised $2,145,602 in the fourth quarter. She ended 2021 with $4,931728 raised , $2,110,958 spent and $2,820,769 cash on hand.
  • Ted Budd raised $968,360 in the fourth quarter. He ended 2021 with $3,112,599 raised, $2,037,096 spent and $2,226,866 cash on hand
  • Pat McCrory raised $748,072 in the fourth quarter. He ended 2021 with 3028635 raised, $1,077,300 spent and has $1,949,198 cash on hand
  • Majorie Eastman raised $423,273 after joining the race in the fourth quarter. She has spent $136,762 and has $286,511 cash on hand
  • Mark Walker raised $146,053 in the fourth quarter. He ended 2021 with $1,577,595 raised, $1,835,873 spent and $571,737 cash on hand
  • Jeff Jackson raised $469,702 in the fourth quarter. He ended 2021 with $3,383,977 raised, $2,553,159 spent and has $830,817 cash on hand.
  • Erica Smith ended 2021 with $604,976 raised, $527,645 spent and has $97,378 cash on hand.

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Kirk Ross

Kirk Ross, 2022 Election Correspondent, is a longtime North Carolina journalist covering the 2022 U.S. Senate race for Policy Watch and States Newsroom. For the past decade, Kirk has reported on state politics and public policy as a member of the Capital Press Corps for Carolina Public Press and the Washington Post and on environmental, climate change and energy policy for Coastal Review. Kirk was a Chapel Hill News and News & Observer local government and education reporter, managing editor of INDY Week and co-founder and editor of the fondly-remembered Carrboro Citizen weekly. [email protected] 919-737-5096