U.S. Rep. Ted Budd agreed to debate his opponent, former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, as they duke it out to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate.
Budd, a Republican, has been criticized in recent days by Beasley’s campaign for running a quiet campaign heading into the November election and for turning down other debates.
On Friday night, Beasley’s campaign continued with that criticism after Budd declined a debate hosted by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters.
“Cheri remains ready to share her vision for North Carolina with voters and continues to demonstrate how she will fight for them in the U.S. Senate,” said Travis Brimm, Beasley’s campaign manager. “Meanwhile, Congressman Budd is either too afraid to defend his disgraceful record or has so few ideas to offer that he is flat-out refusing to debate. This November, voters will remember that Congressman Budd felt so entitled to North Carolina’s Senate seat that he didn’t even attempt to earn their votes.”
But Jonathan Felts, Budd’s campaign adviser, said the congressman already had accepted a debate with different organizers when Beasley’s team sent out Friday’s statement.
Felts shared emails to show that he sent notice Wednesday to Spectrum News 1’s managing editor Dale McElrath to confirm Budd would debate Beasley on air on Oct. 5.
“On behalf of the Ted Budd for US Senate campaign, I am happy to accept your invitation for Ted Budd to participate in the Spectrum News Debate on Oct. 5,” Felts wrote to McElrath, according to an email shared with The News & Observer. “I would also note, unlike other candidates in this race, we have no objections to the Libertarian and Green Party nominees participating in the debate.”
The News & Observer asked Beasley’s spokeswoman Dory MacMillan late Friday about whether her team knew about the agreement and the timing of the statement. She said the statement was directed at Budd’s refusal to participate in the debate with the largest audience.
“Here are the facts: Congressman Budd refused to debate in the primary and rejected an invitation to the NCAB’s marquee debate reaching the most North Carolinians,” said Dory MacMillan, Beasley’s spokeswoman. “Cheri is ready and eager to debate — North Carolinians deserve nothing less.”
Felts told The N&O that as debate planning got underway between the two campaigns, they realized Oct. 5 marks Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday and one of the faith’s holiest days.
The Budd team agreed to move the debate. As of Friday afternoon, discussions were taking place about whether to do so after sundown on Wednesday, Oct. 5, or hold it on Friday, Oct. 7.
“As you might imagine, and contrary to what some of the more simple-minded reporters covering this race might think, we have a busy schedule and have lined up lots of other campaign events in October that are firmly locked into place,” Felts said. “We’re willing to cancel/postpone a statewide tour on Friday, Oct. 7 if that date can work for the debate.”
This story was originally published September 10, 2022 8:44 AM.
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