Nov 17, 2022 - News

NC Republicans aren't rushing to endorse Trump

Illustration of the state of North Carolina as if it were the zipper-face emoji.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

North Carolina's top elected Republicans aren't rushing to endorse former president Trump after he announced his 2024 presidential candidacy earlier this week.

Why it matters: While top Republicans around the country are already defecting from Trump, who won the state in 2016 and 2020, North Carolina's are simply remaining quiet.

  • Notably silent are the serving and recently elected officials who've benefited from his endorsements in recent years.

"They were saying he was the leader of our party," former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who lost to Trump-backed Ted Budd in the Republican U.S. Senate primary this year, said of the elected officials who have yet to back Trump. "They were using his name to raise money and seek his endorsement."

Driving the news: Axios asked every recently elected Republican to the U.S. Senate and House in the state if they plan on backing Trump. None responded, and none appear to have publicly expressed their support for the former president.

  • Rep. Richard Hudson, who was elected Tuesday to lead the National Republican Congressional Committee, is the only lawmaker who appears to have publicly expressed his support for the former president.

Yes, but: The election is two years away.

  • "[The announcement] just happened last night, but I think most of them are in a wait and see mode," former Republican National Committee spokesperson Doug Heye said Tuesday.

New poll (yes, already): Of 600 North Carolinians surveyed in a poll commissioned by the conservative Carolina Partnership for Reform, 46% said they have a favorable view of Florida Gov. Ron Desantis. President Biden and Trump had equal favorability ratings, each with 41%.

  • Among Republican voters and unaffiliated voters who have voted in Republican primaries, a hefty chunk — 47% — said they'd rather Republicans nominate someone new in the presidential race. 44% said they'd like to see Trump run again.
  • The difference between the two responses is within the survey's 4% margin of error, however.

By the numbers: Trump has won every race he's run in North Carolina, even as the state elected Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in 2016 and 2020. Here's how:

  • 2016 primary: He finished first in a 12-candidate field, taking 40.23% of the vote to outdistance Ted Cruz (36.76%), John Kasich (12.67%) and Marco Rubio (7.73%).
  • 2016 general: Beat Hillary Clinton by nearly 175,000 votes, or nearly 4 percentage points. McCrory also lost to Cooper.
  • 2020 primary: Took 94% of the vote, and the second-place finisher was "no preference" with 2.5%.
  • 2020 general: Beat Joe Biden by about 74,000 votes, a margin of 1.34%.

The bottom line: The one notable North Carolina Republican who jumped to endorse Trump this week was scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who said, "I will follow this man until the day I die."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Rep. Richard Hudson’s support of Trump.


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