Apr 30, 2024 - News

How influential a Trump endorsement could be in North Carolina

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station inside Fuquay-Varina Community Center on March 5. Photo: Allison Joyce/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One of the last remaining Republican primary races could be a test of how influential former President Trump's endorsement remains in North Carolina.

Why it matters: The winner of the May 14 Republican primary runoff for North Carolina Congressional District 13 between Kelly Daughtry and Brad Knott will likely become the representative for a large swath of suburban Raleigh area voters.

  • The district was redrawn last year to be more favorable for Republicans. Incumbent Rep. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat, decided not to run after the new maps were released.

State of play: Former federal prosecutor Knott narrowly got enough votes in March to force a runoff against Smithfield attorney Daughtry.

  • Daughtry, the daughter of a well-known former state politician, finished nearly 10 points ahead of Knott in the initial primary vote and has more than double the amount of campaign money than Knott, according to Politico.
  • She has also spent heavily on advertisements against Knott in recent weeks, including one that Politifact said falsely asserted Knott was a lawyer for President Biden.

Yes, but: Knott has Trump's endorsement — and that has been a powerful asset this year in North Carolina Republican contests.

What they're saying: The Knott campaign told Axios it believes the endorsement, which came after the primary, has completely flipped the race.

  • An internal poll released by his campaign Monday shows Knott with 61.8% of the vote — a number that has grown significantly since the endorsement.
  • "Even after spending all that (campaign) money, these new survey numbers make it very plain for everyone to see, Daughtry has zero path to victory in the NC-13 runoff," Knott's campaign adviser Jonathan Felts said in a statement.
  • The Daughtry campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Flashback: A Trump endorsement had mixed results in 2022. Sen. Ted Budd used it to boost his run for Senate, while it wasn't enough to get controversial Rep. Madison Cawthorn through his primary or Bo Hines to victory over Wiley Nickel.

  • One research paper found that in the last election cycle, a Trump endorsement helped Republican candidates in primaries but less so in the general election.

What's next: Early voting is already underway.

The winner would then face Frank Pierce, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in November.

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