U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C. 13th) has won North Carolina's contested U.S. Senate seat, per unofficial election results.
Budd won 50.7 percent of the votes in the general election in North Carolina, finishing ahead of Democratic candidate and former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who received 47.1 percent of the vote.
Budd will take the place of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is retiring after serving three terms in the U.S. Senate.
Budd’s victory is a key win for Republicans in the state who hoped to keep Burr's former seat in their party's hands.
“With their votes today, the people of North Carolina have sent a clear signal that the Biden agenda is wrong for America," Budd said in a press release. "It’s time to start creating jobs again instead of destroying jobs and I’m ready to fight for that in the US Senate.”
The Associated Press called the race at 11:49 p.m. on Tuesday night. The race between Budd and Beasley for the North Carolina Senate seat was tightly contested for much of the year.
With just over 22 percent of ballots counted, Beasley led Budd, 55 percent to 43 percent, in the closely watched race. But that changed as Election Day ballots were counted. Early voting results showed Beasley ahead, but Budd took the lead as precincts reported Election Day data.
This matches documented trends. Republican voters historically cast more ballots than Democrats on Election Day and Democrats are more likely to vote early, according to Gallup.
Budd, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is a gun store owner and voted against certifying the 2020 election. He also co-sponsored a national ban on abortion.
"Having that debate was a healthy thing and I do stand by that vote," Budd said in a debate with Beasley.
Budd and his supporters have focused on making the race a referendum on President Joe Biden's policies and how the administration has handled the economy.
Budd's gained seat could affect the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. At the time of publication, neither party had gained a majority in the Senate, which they could potentially use to pass key legislation.
In a press release, Beasley said she called Budd to congratulate him on the win.
"I offered him my support and encouraged him to stand in the tradition of our state to be an independent leader that puts North Carolina first," she said. "I hope he will."
And while I am disappointed — I am not defeated," she said in the press release. "While I wish for a different outcome, I am not leaving the fight because the issues that I ran on are too important and an election doesn’t determine my voice or my continued commitment to fight with you."
Alina Hunt, a 60-year-old Chapel Hill resident, noted the significance of the role of Senator while voting on Election Day.
“It’s not just the presidential elections," Hunt said. "It's important what happens in Congress and in the Senate. They have a lot of influence on instituting, implementing and changing laws."
Libertarian candidate Shannon Bray and Matthew Hoh, the Green Party candidate, each received around one percent of the vote. Bray received 1.36 percent and Hoh received 0.78 percent.
"I’m grateful to everyone who voted for our campaign," Hoh said on Twitter on Tuesday. "In an election where we had to fight some of the most powerful political elites in the country just to get on the ballot, every single vote we earned is a win.
Gowri Abhinanda contributed reporting.
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