Trump endorsement in hand, Walker to exit North Carolina Senate race to launch House bid – Fox News

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Former Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina’s expected this week to end his bid for the Republican Senate nomination and instead launch a 2022 campaign to return to the House of Representatives.
Walker’s move comes following his meeting on Saturday with Donald Trump at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. At the meeting, Trump offered to endorse Walker if the former congressman exited the Senate race and instead ran for the House, according to sources present at the encounter.
MARK WALKER JUMPS IN TO NORTH CAROLINA SENATE RACE
The deal Trump struck with Walker helps to clear the GOP Senate primary field in North Carolina for the candidate the former president endorsed in June – Rep. Ted Budd. Despite Trump’s backing, Budd’s struggled to gain front-runner status in the race, with former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory remaining the current leader in public opinion polling and fundraising.
Former President Donald Trump, right, announces his endorsement of N.C. Rep. Ted Budd, left, for the 2022 North Carolina U.S. Senate seat as he speaks at the North Carolina Republican Convention Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward) (AP )
Walker, who’s currently third in the GOP primary, and Budd are both showcasing their support for Trump as the bid for the Senate nomination, while McCrory appears to be appealing to more moderate Republicans and independents. With Walker out of the field, Budd may have an easier time taking on McCrory ahead of the March 8 primary, in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in the key battleground state.
BUDD TELLS FOX NEWS TRUMP ENDORSEMENT ‘REALLY ACCELERATED’ SENATE RUN
“Mark Walker was invited by President Trump to meet with him at Mar-a-Lago. There, Trump offered his endorsement to Walker for North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District,” former Walker chief of staff Jack Minor confirmed to Fox News on Monday morning. Word of the deal was first reported by Politico.
Walker, whose Senate campaign launch a year ago was first reported by Fox News, tweeted on Saturday “Glad to be invited to Mar-a-Lago this evening to discuss the path forward getting ready to meet with President Trump[.]”
Walker’s expected to now run in the newly redrawn 7th Congressional District, which will contain much of the parts of northern-central North Carolina in the current 6th Congressional District that Walker represented from 2015-2020 in the House. Budd represents parts of that territory in the current 13th Congressional District.
Sources confirm to Fox News that GOP congressional candidate Bo Hines, Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina – who endorsed Walker earlier this year – and David McIntosh, president of the outside conservative group Club for Growth, were also at the meeting. As part of the deal, Hines – who was campaigning for the 7th Congressional District, will receive Trump’s endorsement to run in the 4th Congressional District. 
NORTH CAROLINA GOP BATTLE – TRUMP ENDORSES TED BUDD FOR SENATE 
Hines’ move prevents what could have been an ugly conservative face-off between him and Walker who is a former chair of the Republican Study Committee, the longstanding organization made up of House conservatives.
Walker, a pastor who has heavily courted evangelical voters, has criticized Budd for the big bucks the Club for Growth has spent on behalf of the congressman’s Senate bid.
“President Trump deserves a lot of credit for bringing together North Carolina conservatives and proposing a path that truly benefits the voters,” McIntosh said in a statement.
McCrory’s Senate campaign disputed that the deal struck by Trump would benefit Budd.
Former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, in a campaign video announcing his run for the U.S. Senate, on April 14, 2021.
“Our polls show that Gov. McCrory’s large lead expands in this scenario,” McCrory campaign adviser Jordan Shaw told Fox News. “That’s because Walker’s supporters want someone who isn’t bought, paid for, wholly owned and operated by a D.C. special interest group. That obviously eliminates Congressman Budd and benefits Gov. McCrory.”
The race in North Carolina could be one of a handful of crucial contests next year which may decide whether the GOP recaptures the Senate majority it narrowly lost in the 2020 election cycle.
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The chamber is evenly split 50/50, but the Democrats control the chamber by a razor-thin margin due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris through her constitutional role as president of the Senate.
Republicans are playing plenty of defense – they are defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs, including open seats in North Carolina, as well as in Ohio, Missouri, Alabama, and the swing state of Pennsylvania. Still, they see opportunities to flip blue seats red next year in four states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire.
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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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