Walker, who was said for weeks to be considering a House race, has not officially announced his intention to withdraw from the Senate race. Nominations in North Carolina begin Monday at noon.
Despite the former president’s endorsement and multi-million dollar backing from the Club for Growth’s super PAC, Budd has failed to outdo former Gov. Pat McCrory, who is also seeking the Republican Senate nomination. Walker for months followed Budd and McCrory in polls and fundraising.
The new 7th District congressional seat that Walker would run for resembles the district Walker represented from 2015-2020. Budd currently represents a large portion of that region in Congress.
Budd and Walker both campaign as Trump loyalists, unlike McCrory, a Republican more attractive to moderates.
As part of the deal negotiated at Saturday’s meeting – which was also attended by Republican congressional candidate Bo Hines, Representative Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) and Club for Growth President David McIntosh – Hines will receive Trump’s approval to run for the 4th Congressional District, Confirmed Minor.
Until recently, Hines campaigned as a candidate in the 7th arrondissement. Trump’s maneuvers get him out of that race and into the 4th District contest, freeing up room for Walker to show up in 7th.
A main showdown between Hines and Walker could also have turned disorderly, which could lead Cawthorn and other members of the House Freedom Caucus to endorse Hines against Walker, a former chair of the Republican study committee.
A spokesperson for Hines said the campaign would not comment on the issue until Monday.
The new arrangement amounts to a truce between several conservatives in North Carolina – and rule a game of Republican musical chairs that is underway in the state.
Walker, a former pastor who actively courted the evangelical Christian vote, criticized Budd for his reliance on funding from the Club for Growth. The group’s super PAC is spending $ 10 million to support Budd in the race.
“President Trump deserves a lot of credit for bringing the North Carolina conservatives together and coming up with a path that really benefits voters,” McIntosh said in a statement Sunday, when asked about his attendance at the Mar-a-Lago meeting.
Spokesmen for Trump and Budd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Parties involved in the meeting have offered conflicting accounts of who was the driving force behind it. Some said it was McIntosh, while others showed Cawthorn, who handed out leaflets titled “Congressman Cawthorn’s Plan for North Carolina” – a map which showed Walker running through the 7th District. and Hines in the 4th arrondissement.
Several sources said McIntosh played an important role in shaping the plan, including one who said McIntosh offered Hines “encouragement” to agree to change races and race in 4th District. , where Hines currently resides. Walker before represented more than two-thirds of what will now become the 7th arrondissement.
Cawthorn won his seat as the 24-year-old first candidate in 2020 against a candidate endorsed by Trump. Corn he received “full approval” from Trump this spring, with the former president announcing that he would back Cawthorn in the future in “whatever he wants to do.”
A McCrory campaign spokesperson rebuffed the idea that Budd would benefit from Walker’s departure from the Senate race.
“Our polls show that Governor McCrory’s significant lead is increasing in this scenario,” said Jordan Shaw, McCrory’s campaign adviser. “It’s because Walker’s supporters want someone who isn’t bought, paid for, fully owned and exploited by a DC special interest group. This obviously eliminates Congressman Budd and benefits Governor McCrory. “
A McCrory internal poll memo from October showed McCrory ahead by 15 percentage points in the three-way race. Shaw said the poll found his lead increased by another point during a head-to-head with Budd.
A survey commissioned by the Club for Growth last month, meanwhile, had McCrory up only three points.