Political newcomer Ted Budd shook up the Republican primary in North Carolina’s new 13th Congressional District by landing support from a national conservative group that launched a recent TV campaign on his behalf.
Club for Growth Action has spent just more than $285,000 to promote Budd’s candidacy in the newly formed district that includes all of Davie and Davidson counties and parts of Guilford, Iredell and Rowan counties.
That spending included almost $266,000 on a “TV ad air buy, (and) production costs” May 11, according to the website for the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics’ “Open Secrets.”
Budd, 44, owns part of a family farm near Advance as well as a firearms complex in Rural Hall called ProShots. But he has not held elective office and faces a bevy of current and former elected officials in the 17-candidate Republican primary set for June 7. Early voting begins May 26.
Budd acknowledged that he would face a “learning curve” if elected, but he said he did not think his lack of experience in public office would hinder him.
“I would say the system is designed to have new people coming in,” he said Tuesday after speaking to a Republican women’s group in Lexington.
The Club for Growth, headquartered in Washington, champions lower income tax rates, limited government, free trade, school choice and deregulation. Club for Growth Action spends heavily at times to promote or oppose candidates as the larger group’s political action arm.
The group’s campaign for Budd is the primary’s first districtwide media effort.
The 30-second ad spots depict Budd as a farmer, family man, “home-schooler,” and small businessman who has “never run for office before.”
The group only supports a limited number of congressional candidates each election cycle, usually between 10 and 20 races, said Andy Roth, Club for Growth’s vice president for governmental affairs.
“We want to make sure we pick the right candidate and that we can materially affect the outcome,” Roth said. “He (Budd) is a full-spectrum conservative. Family man, businessman, and he understands economics better than most people.”
Roth said he was not sure exactly how much the group had spent promoting Budd’s candidacy or whether they’ll spend more.
Budd said that he had not altered any of his views or positions to attract backing from Club for Growth Action, although many of its positions line up with his, including his support for congressional term limits.
“I don’t have to change for people to come in behind me and support me,” he said. “If they want to come in behind me, then I’m grateful for their support.”
The district emerged from the North Carolina General Assembly’s revised statewide redistricting map drawn earlier this year after a panel of federal judges sided with protesters who filed suit against the original design on allegations it had been gerrymandered.
The new district spans much of Guilford County, including High Point and parts of Greensboro. The old 13th District sprawled to the east of Guilford and its incumbent, U.S. Rep. George Holding, is running in the 2nd District against an incumbent.
The open seat in the 13th District attracted a wide array of GOP candidates, including state Sen. Andrew Brock of Mocksville; and state Reps. John Blust of Greensboro, Julia Howard of Mocksville and Harry Warren of Salisbury.
The GOP field also features several candidates who hold or held local offices, including Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning and former Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson.
Five Democrats are competing to be that party’s standard bearer in the new district. They are former Guilford Commissioner Bruce Davis of High Point; Greensboro videographer and photographer Adam Coker; former candidate for state labor commissioner Mazie Ferguson of Greensboro; Durham resident Kevin Griffin; and Greensboro developer Bob Isner.