Former state Sen. Erica Smith, who dropped out of North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race last week to run for a House seat, endorsed Democrat Cheri Beasley on Tuesday.
Beasley, a former NC Supreme Court chief justice, is competing with state Sen. Jeff Jackson for the Democratic nomination. The two have led in fundraising by a wide margin — among their party and when compared to their Republican counterparts.
Primary elections are scheduled for March, with a general election in November. Sen. Richard Burr said he will not seek reelection. The Republican candidates include former Gov. Pat McCrory, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker.
In a statement, Smith said Beasley is “the only candidate who will finally win this seat and fight every day for the people of North Carolina, just as she has done throughout her life in public service.”
“Cheri is a former public defender, judge and Chief Justice of our State Supreme Court, and always worked to move North Carolina in the direction of fairness and progress,” Smith said. “Whether it was speaking out about systemic injustice and the murder of George Floyd or implementing paid family leave for thousands of court employees, Cheri’s values and determination to do what is right are what we need in this moment.”
Smith is now running for North Carolina’s newly-drawn 2nd Congressional District, in the northeastern part of the state where she served as a state senator. She spent much of her Senate campaign advocating for rural issues.
Democratic primary in Senate race
Both Jackson and Beasley have been hosting campaign events across the state. Although Jackson appears to have drawn larger crowds at most of his events, Beasley out-fundraised him this past financial quarter, pulling in $1.5 million to Jackson’s $900,00.
Jackson has raised more overall, and raised the most of any candidate — Democrat or Republican. He entered the race about four months before Beasley.
“I appreciate Senator Smith’s support and know that we can win this election with all of us working together,” Beasley said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the enthusiasm my campaign is seeing across the state and I am committed to fighting for the people of North Carolina every day in the U.S. Senate.”
Beasley was the first Black woman to serve as North Carolina’s chief justice. If she wins, she would become North Carolina’s first Black senator. There are currently no Black female U.S. senators.