Cheri Beasley makes final pitch to voters to become North Carolina’s first Black U.S. senator

In a sit-down interview with theGrio, the Democratic nominee for Senate in North Carolina said the choice between her and her Republican opponent, Ted Budd, could not be more clear.

In the final stretch of the 2022 midterm elections, Cheri Beasley, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina, is making her last pitch to voters.

During a recent sit-down interview with theGrio, Beasley — who, if elected this Tuesday, would become the state’s first Black and first Black woman U.S. senator — said she has visited all of its 100 counties at least once during her Senate campaign to reach North Carolina voters where they are.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley walks in the North Carolina Central University Homecoming Parade on Nov. 5, 2022, in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

“We are different and diverse but share North Carolina values,” said Beasley, who noted that most constituents expressed that they are “having a hard time” economically amid current inflation.

According to a survey conducted by theGrio in partnership with KFF, 73 percent of Black voters named concerns related to the economy as their top issue heading into the midterm elections.

“We’ve just come through a pandemic. And, of course, costs are rising, and they want to know that, as the next senator, I’m going to fight hard to make sure that families can take care of themselves,” Beasley said. “So many are working two or three jobs to take care of their families. People are feeling everything, from pain at the pump to the cost of prescription drugs and everything in between.”

“In the greatest country in the world,” she continued, “folks should not be having to make choices around buying groceries or school supplies or high-priced medications … I just know and feel that compassion for so many folks here in the state.” 

Beasley, 56, has publicly served North Carolina for nearly 30 years of her life. She most recently served as chief justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court and previously worked as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, a state district judge, and a public defender. “As a judge in the state,” she noted, “I’ve been engaged with communities all over the state for quite some time.”

Beasley said the decision, for voters, between her and her Republican opponent, Rep. Ted Budd, could not be more clear.

“He’s never voted in favor of North Carolina,” she said, pointing out that Budd, who has represented North Carolina’s 7th congressional district since 2017, voted against the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Joe Biden that lowered prescription drug prices for millions of Medicare recipients and contained provisions to help bring down energy costs. 

U.S. Senate nominee Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) speaks to supporters at the New Hanover GOP Headquarters on Nov. 1 in Wilmington, North Carolina. (Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

“[Budd] voted against North Carolina for every single opportunity he’s had in Congress, not just prescription drugs and gas prices, but on the I.R.A. (Inflation Reduction Act) and bringing good-paying jobs to North Carolina and increasing the supply of baby formula when there was none anywhere in the country in North Carolina,” Beasley contended. 

During the campaign trail, Budd has attacked Beasley on her record as a judge and has argued that, if elected to the Senate, she will continue President Biden’s “liberal” agenda that he and Republicans in contests across the country have blamed for rising costs of food, gas and other goods and services. 

But Beasley hit back at Budd, saying that in his six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, he’s had “every opportunity to fight to lower costs.” 

“But instead, he voted against lowering the cost of prescription drugs and voted against capping insulin while taking tens of thousands of dollars from Big Pharma,” she added. “He voted against lowering the cost of gas while taking tens of thousands of dollars from big oil.” 

“Ted Budd has decided to put his own interests and corporate interests ahead of the interests of folks here in North Carolina,” said Beasley. “And that’s just wrong.”

A recent poll of North Carolina voters conducted by Emerson College/The Hill shows Budd leading Beasley by 5 percentage points (50% vs. 45%), with 2 percent of voters remaining undecided.

Cheri Beasley
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaks to supporters at the Cumberland County Cookout and Canvass Launch event on Nov. 6, 2022, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Beasley faces U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) in the November general election, which will be held Tuesday. (Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

If elected to the Senate, the former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice could have the responsibility of voting to confirm — or not confirm — the next United States Supreme Court justice. Beasley said given the high court’s controversial ruling that overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, who North Carolinians vote into the Senate is crucial.

She’s slammed Budd throughout her campaign for sponsoring a 15-week ban on abortions  “without exceptions for rape or incest or risk to a mother’s health” and has accused him of wanting to have a complete ban on abortion care.

“The Supreme Court has forecast the rights it intends to infringe on next … we have got to be prepared and feel a sense of urgency in this election,” said the Democratic nominee. “I look forward to taking the judicial nominating process very seriously because we’ve seen a mockery of it.”

Beasley said Black voters should understand the urgency more than anyone, “given the many folks who came before us who literally gave their lives for civil rights … so we can ill afford to go backward. We must keep pushing forward.”

Protesters gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as affirmative action cases involving Harvard and University of North Carolina admissions are heard by the court in Washington on Monday, October 31, 2022. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Early voting in North Carolina has so far surpassed that of the 2018 midterm elections, with more than 2.1 million people casting their ballots, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. But some apathetic voters may not show up to the polls. TheGrio/KFF survey found that 65 percent of Black voters said they are certain to cast their ballot, while another 36 percent said they were split on whether they would vote on Nov. 8.

“There are some voters who just have been disenchanted, feel left out of the process and see elected officials [have left] them behind, particularly in rural communities,” said Beasley. “I do hope that folks understand, number one, that they matter, and their vote matters, but also that people would not, particularly Republicans, would not be working so hard to take away the right to vote if it didn’t matter.”

For voters who may still be contemplating their vote on Tuesday, Beasley assured them that she will be a servant leader who “respects the rule of law” and vowed that she is “prepared to make decisions grounded in humanity that work for North Carolinians.”

“I think it’s really important that the next senator — and I hope it’s me — is going to be prepared to stand for what’s right, call out what’s wrong, and lead courageously,” she added. “And that’s what I’m prepared to do.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is the Managing Editor of Politics and Washington Correspondent at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.