Democratic state Rep. Jeff Jackson said that he would end his bid for Senate in North Carolina and endorse former state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley.
Jackson’s announcement Thursday morning clears Beasley’s path to the Democratic nomination, as she has consistently led in statewide polls.
Jackson acknowledged Beasley’s lead in a video announcing his decision, and he said that Democrats’ best chance of flipping the seat would be uniting behind her.
“We all have to come together right now,” Jackson said, touching on Democrats’ recent defeat in Virginia. “We are headed into a tough one.”
Jackson also mentioned former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Trump-endorsed Rep. Tedd Budd, who are the two highest-polling candidates seeking the Republican nomination.
“Pat McCrory and Ted Budd are gearing up to spend millions of dollars attacking each other in order to be the Republican nominee,” Jackson said. “If we’re going to flip this seat, we can’t do that.”
While lower-profile Democratic candidates remained in the race, Beasley and Jackson had large polling and fundraising leads. The duo raised $1.67 million and $1.18 million through September, respectively, according to The News & Observer.
As Democrats coalesce behind Beasley, who recently secured endorsements from North Carolina Democratic Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield, according to the Observer, former President Donald Trump has waded into the race on the Republican side in a bid to clear the field for Budd.
Trump reportedly offered to endorse former Republican Rep. Mark Walker for the House if he ran for a seat there and ended his Senate bid in an attempt to increase support for Budd, who recent polls show is trailing McCrory.
Walker, however, told the Associated Press that he planned to continue his Senate campaign as he considered Trump’s offer.
The candidates are vying to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr. While North Carolina’s primary was originally scheduled for March, it was delayed until May to allow for lawsuits against the state’s gerrymandered House map to proceed.
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