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2022 Primary Preview: North Carolina and Idaho, May 17

An oily SuperPAC is trying to knock down progressive Green New Dealers

On May 17th, Oregon, North Carolina, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky hold primary elections. Below, North Carolina and Idaho.

May 17 (continued): North Carolina, Idaho

North Carolina

NC-Sen: Republican Senator Richard Burr is retiring, leaving this open race as another crucial determinant of US Senate control. The Democratic primary has been cleared for former North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who is campaigning on climate justice. On the Republican side, there is a crowded field, including former Rep. Mark Walker, a climate denier. The major candidates appear to be Trump-endorsed Rep. Ted Budd, who has fought what he calls the “radical Green New Deal agenda,” and former Koch brothers mouthpiece Pat McCrory, who opened North Carolina’s coast to offshore oil drilling, rescinded a ban on fracking, and signed a weak coal ash cleanup law that opponents labeled the “Duke Energy Protection Act” during his single term as governor. In many ways, this primary illustrates how the GOP has lurched even further to the extreme right in a short period of time.

The far right has abandoned McCrory, who was for a time one of the nation’s most right-wing governors, and the ultraconservative Club for Growth and Trump are both backing Budd, a Financial Services Committee member and staunch opponent of climate financial protection. McCrory lost his re-election bid after businesses withdrew from North Carolina and condemned an anti-LGBTQ bill that previewed what Trump-aligned governors are now pushing around the country. McCrory and his allies have spent heavily on ads pointing out that Budd is a Putin sympathizer, but it’s unclear if these attacks are proving effective.

Sunrise-backed Nida Allam for North Carolina’s Fourth

NC-04: Rep. David Price is retiring from this safe Dem district, which is based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle. The Sunrise Movement and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have endorsed Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who has been the subject of some ugly attacks. AIPAC and the fossil-fueled Democratic Majority for Israel PAC are spending big in support of state senator Valerie Foushee. Also running is former American Idol star Clay Aiken, who apparently was a big Trump fan until inexcusably recently.

Sunrise-backed Erica Smith for North Carolina’s First

NC-01: Democratic Rep. GK Butterfield is retiring from a coastal and northeastern seat that was made very slightly more challenging in redistricting. The Sunrise Movement and the Congressional Progressive Caucus have endorsed former state senator and GND champ Erica Smith, who they hail for “unapologetically running on a Rural New Deal,” against state senator Don Davis, an opponent of abortion rights who helped send a 2013 bill preempting local environmental protections and flood mitigation measures to Governor McCrory’s desk. His regular votes with the GOP majority in the NC Senate notwithstanding, Davis was endorsed by Butterfield and the state AFL-CIO. As with NC-04, the oil-fueled DMFI is pumping in cash on behalf of Davis.

NC-11: 26 year-old insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn finally crossed a line for his congressional Republican colleagues, not through his gun-related offenses or pro-Nazi behavior, but by claiming that they have drug-fueled orgies. Several prominent Republicans, including Senator Thom Tillis (of “sea no evil” fame), have endorsed and spent in support of one of Cawthorn’s primary opponents in this race, state senator Chuck Edwards.

Idaho

ID-Gov: Idaho Governor Brad Little is a right-wing Republican up for re-election, but he’s facing many challenges from the even-further right. Four years ago, Democrat Paulette Jordan ran an energizing campaign for governor in this dark red state, but ultimately failed to get 40% of the vote against Little. The real contest therefore is expected to be on the Republican side, where armed extremist Ammon Bundy and Janice McGeachen, the flamboyantly anti-vaccine/anti-mask lieutenant governor who occasionally seeks to undermine Little whenever he leaves the state, are among the list of candidates challenging Little for the Republican nomination. There are several Democratic candidates, but in summary, it’s a pretty grim situation and there aren’t really any competitive down-ballot races, including for Idaho’s two congressional seats. 

In our next post, we will continue with an overview of the other two states that will vote on May 17, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

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