In a move Thursday that caught North Carolina pundits and pols completely off guard, former Rep. Mark Walker announced he would remain in the three-candidate Republican primary for the seat of retiring Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
With polls consistently showing Walker trailing former Gov. Pat McCrory and two-term Rep. Ted Budd (who has the strong endorsement of Donald Trump), his continued presence is likely to drain votes from Budd rather than McCrory.
Right up to Walker’s announcement, speculation was rampant that the former three-term House Member would abandon his Senate bid and seek a return to the House from the newly-carved 11th District — which doesn't include his home in Greensboro. Residency in a district is not a constitutional requirement to serve in the House.
Trump himself urged Walker to switch to the House race and promised his endorsement.
But Walker was having none of it and told supporters Thursday he was in the Senate race to stay.
Reacting to Walker’s decision, veteran Tarheel State political analyst Marc Rotterman told Newsmax that "the big question is whether Walker can raise enough money to run a campaign."
Noting that state courts recently extended the primary to May or June while it determines the constitutionality of redistricting plans, Rotterman said, "In my view is not advantageous for former Gov. McCrory."
He added that Trump "remains the kingmaker in the race, and his involvement is key in the outcome."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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