Melissa Harris-Perry: Last year, three-term Senator, Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina, announced he would not seek reelection. Now, Senator Burr was a solidly conservative Republican stalwart, but following the attempted insurrection in January of 2021, he was censored by the Republican Party of North Carolina after he voted to convict former President Donald Trump during the second impeachment trial.
Burr's retirement cleared the way for what is now one of the most consequential races of the midterm season, the US Senate race in North Carolina, which is where I live along with my family.
The Republican candidate is US representative Ted Budd, a three-term conservative congressman in the House. The Democratic candidate is Cheri Beasley, former public defender and judge, Beasley was the first Black woman to serve as Chief Justice of North Carolina's Supreme Court.
Now, we should put in a note that we put in multiple requests, inviting representative Budd to appear on this program, but we never received a response. With me now is Cheri Beasley, Democratic candidate for the US Senate from North Carolina. Cheri Beasley, thanks for being with us today on The Takeaway.
Cheri Beasley: Hello, Melissa.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Now, I know you've been traveling around the state of North Carolina as part of this campaign. What have you been hearing from North Carolinians? What matters?
Cheri Beasley: I have been traveling to all of our 100 counties, and lots matters. We matter, and people are concerned about rising costs. Folks are feeling everything from pain to the pump to the cost of prescription drugs and everything in between. Folks are making tough decisions around buying groceries or school supplies or high price medicine or trying to figure out how to spend that last $100 of the month.
People care about freedom, and the climate crisis is so real here and so I'm excited about this opportunity to really fight for North Carolina and to really be responsive to our interests. Ted Budd has been in Congress for three terms, six years, and he's always put corporate interests at his own ahead of our interest here in North Carolina.
Melissa Harris-Perry: At this moment, there are no African American women serving in the US Senate. African American women have had a challenging time winning statewide elections, especially in the South. Tell me why you think you can be successful tomorrow.
Cheri Beasley: Well, I'm excited about the enthusiasm in this race and we have seen lots of energy all across the state. I'm very thankful that I've had two successful contested statewide elections here in North Carolina. We knew this would be a tough race. I've had tough races before. I've never backed down and I won't back down now, but I'm not the one who's really worried about this race. It's really Ted Budd and his national Republican allies who are spending millions and millions of dollars to distort my judicial record.
I've served as public defender, judge, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and they don't spend that kind of money unless they know that we really can win this race. We are seeing really positive results in early voting here in the state. I'm really excited about how well things are going.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Well, in indeed. I certainly see all of the ads as a North Carolinian. Mr. Budd has said that your positions on criminal justice reform will actually endanger North Carolinians. Do you have a response to that?
Cheri Beasley: Well, Ted Budd is trying to scare you about my record because he cannot defend his own. He is the one who called the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6th where hundreds of law enforcement officers were beaten, some of whom were beaten with the American flag. He called them just "patriots" standing up. Even after all of that violence, he failed to certify the 2020 election.
When pushed, he will not say that he will accept the results of this election. In his six years of Congress, he has had four opportunities to vote in favor of funding for law enforcement, and each of those times, he has voted against it, including voted against funding for the opioid crisis, which is serious here.
I know that as the former Chief Justice, I worked hard with law enforcement. I held violent offenders accountable, created the first human trafficking court here in North Carolina, and I know we need to fund the police. They need funding to keep our communities and themselves safe, and we need to invest in community-based violence intervention programs to stop the cycle of violence. We have a real opportunity in this race and a clear choice.
We can have someone who wants to move us backwards, or I really want to move us forward. I'm working hard to lower costs. He wants to make sure that corporations' profits are raised. I'm going to fight hard for our democracy. He wants to undermine it. Now, I'm going to be working for folks here in North Carolina, and he's going to be working for corporations and for himself. We have a real clear choice in this race.
My candidacy really is structured around our values here in North Carolina for our families and for our communities. It's about doing what's best for North Carolina and for this country, and so we have a real choice. In the next few hours or so, we've got an election day coming. Voting will be from 6:30 in the morning until 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time, and we're going to ask people to stay in line if the lines are long. So much is riding in this election cycle, we certainly want folks to feel a sense of urgency about the outcome of these elections.
Melissa Harris-Perry: You talked about the resources being poured into the Budd campaign. Have you had the support you feel that you need from the National Democratic Party for this race?
Cheri Beasley: I'm really very excited about how well we've done in this race. I know we were probably counted out a long time ago, but we've done very well. We've got lots of support here in the state, and I always said early on that this would be a North Carolina-centered campaign and race.
This is about who we are here in the state and the things that matter most to us, and so I'm excited. Folks outside of North Carolina understand the importance of us winning this race. It's important to North Carolina, and it's important to this country, so I'm very proud of where we are. I'm very thankful to the many folks here in North Carolina who have stood with us and really have been so supportive.
Melissa Harris-Perry: All right. We need to take a quick break but stay with us. We've got more with Cheri Beasley when we return. This is The Takeaway.
All right, we're back, and still with me is Cheri Beasley. She is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate in North Carolina. I'm wondering if, at this time, you're at all worried either for yourself or for North Carolina voters when it comes to issues of personal safety and voter intimidation for those who will be voting in person on Tuesday at our polling places.
Cheri Beasley: I certainly trust the process. I believe in free and fair elections. There are certainly voter protection lines that I hope people will call if they see problems at the polls. I'm trusting and believing. We've had early voting here for about two weeks. Generally speaking, it's been without incidents. Of course, there have been a few isolated incidents here and there, but voters are excited. They're enthusiastic, and they really understand the importance of this process and why it matters to us here in the state.
I am prayerful and encouraged that most folks share the same values around hard work and faith and justice and integrity, and that we do what's right, whether we agree or disagree. What I also know is that the issues impacting North Carolina are not partisan.
If it's you or someone you love who doesn't have access to affordable healthcare, it doesn't matter whether you're independent, Democratic, or Republican, or can't afford prescription drugs. Doesn't matter whether you're independent, Democratic, or Republican, so these issues are not partisan. I'm running for all of North Carolina.
We need someone who really appreciates why that's so important, who's not embroiled in the pettiness of partisan politics, who will put North Carolina well above party, and who will also put North Carolinians and our interests above the interest of themselves and corporations.
I'm really excited about this election. I feel really good about where we are in this election. We've had an amazing time traveling across the state. North Carolinians are awesome people. We are wonderful. We're a big state. We're the ninth largest in the state, and so it's just been a real honor to be out there and really talking with people and having constructive conversations around why we matter here in the state.
Melissa Harris-Perry: North Carolina is a pretty great state from the beaches in the east to the mountains in the west, the cities, the rural areas. I really do love this state, but there is another important race going on right now, and that is the race for who's going to be the top college football team in this year state. Do you have a favorite in that race?
Cheri Beasley: What I know is that whether it's football or basketball, North Carolina always wins because we just have great sports teams and great spirit. Thankfully, that really translates into who we are as North Carolinians, and it translates into why we deserve a better senator.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Good job not picking one of those teams because this is a hot race right now. Cheri Beasley is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate from North Carolina. Thanks so much for taking the time with us today.
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