Featured photo: Cheri Beasley smiles while canvassing in Winston-Salem on Aug. 1, 2022 (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)
On Monday morning, Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley knocked on doors around northwest Winston-Salem in the hopes of defeating Rep. Ted Budd to become the next US Senator from North Carolina this November.
Beasley, who previously served as the chief justice on the state’s Supreme Court from 2019-20, spoke confidently and comfortably as volunteers gathered at Union Baptist Church in the morning. A few dozen community members answered the call to knock on doors on Monday and got a quick tutorial from Beasley’s staff before she took the stage.
“I surely, surely, surely do thank each and every one of you who is here in service understanding the magnitude of the work that you do, understanding that so many people here in Forsyth County need to see you and hear from you….” Beasley said in her speech. “To help them to know why every single election is so important…. For them to understand, frankly, that folks wouldn’t be working so hard to take the right to vote away if it were not effective and impactful on changing the course of the direction of all of our lives.”
Beasley officially announced her run for Senate in April 2021, but she’s no stranger to politics. Starting in 1999, Beasley served as a district court judge after being appointed and won re-election multiple times, eventually making her way up to the NC Court of Appeals. In 2019, Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Beasley to the position of chief justice on the NC Supreme Court, a position she lost to Paul Martin Newby in 2020, by 401 votes.
In 2021, Beasley announced that she would run for Senate to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr. Now, she faces Republican US Rep. Ted Budd who has served as the representative for the state’s 13th Congressional District since 2017.
Her years of experience as a judge colors the way that she thinks about becoming a Senator, she told Triad City Beat.
“The values around hard work and faith transcend those duties,” she said. “Fundamentally, a Senator really ought to have respect for the rule of law and work hard to uphold the Constitution. My opponent is not doing that and I’m fully committed to doing that.”
Budd, who was born in Winston-Salem, has found success during his tenure as a House Rep. namely due to his close relationship with former President Donald Trump. In 2021, Budd was one of 147 Republicans who voted against certification of the 2020 election. After announcing his plans to run for Senate a few months later, he received an endorsement from Trump and eventually beat former Gov. Pat McCrory and Rep. Mark Walker to become the Republican nominee. Beasley won the Democratic nomination by a landslide with 85 percent of the vote.
During her speech at the church, Beasley hit some of the main differences between her and Budd including her support for affordable healthcare, lowering the cost of prescription drugs including insulin and advocating for veterans.
Her biggest talking point however was the one that many Democrats who are running against Republicans in November, are using to draw voters to the polls this November.
“[Ted Budd] is for an absolute ban on abortion,” she said. “…. We must understand the constitutional right for women to make their own reproductive health choices…. There is something very frightening about a court that legislates.
“This is the first time in our nation’s history that the court has taken away a constitutional right,” she said. “And if it can happen once, it can happen again. And that’s why it is so important that we are all here today because so many people don’t know that…. They don’t know that their vote and their voice matters. But we know that.”
A look at Budd’s voting record from the last few months shows his intention to shift the party further to the right if elected.
In mid July, Budd voted against a bill that would protect the freedom to travel for an abortion and voted against marriage equality. He also voted against a bill that would have ensured the right to birth control as well as a bipartisan gun-safety compromise bill.
“I know how Washington has failed families here in North Carolina,” Beasley said while out canvassing. “The great news is that the people of North Carolina have a choice in this election…. Today we’re knocking on doors and we’ve been engaging voters for quite some time talking about people and families and communities and how best as a Senator to represent them.”
The first home that Beasley hit was that of Dan and Diane Pickett, an older Black couple in a single story brick home off of Northampton Drive. As Beasley approached the front door, the Picketts gave her a hug and accepted a yard sign from her. Shortly afterwards, the team crossed the street and canvassed at a number of homes to convince Democrats and unaffiliated voters to pick Beasley.
As she walked in the heat in her dark blue jeans and salmon-colored button up, a gold chain with the words, “Protect Roe” shined around her neck.
If elected, Beasley said that she would work to ensure reproductive rights for Americans.
“I’m going to make sure to fight hard that we codify Roe v. Wade to make sure that women in North Carolina and all across this country have access and are able to make reproductive health decisions for their families,” she said.
With less than three months until early voting starts for the November election, Beasley has outraised Budd by about $10 million through June. Still, the polls show a close race with either candidate ahead by just a few percentage points depending on the poll. In a WRAL poll from mid June, Beasley was leading Budd by 4 points. Still, another one from June by Cygnal Polling on behalf of the John Locke Foundation, a NC conservative think tank, showed Budd ahead by about 5 percent.
And that’s why Beasley said she’s working hard to let voters know that their decision in November matters.
“We need someone who’s not going to fight against the state but somebody who’s going to stand strong for the state of North Carolina,” she said. “So voters really do need to know that there’s a choice and that they should feel a sense of empowerment about being engaged in this election.”
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