NC GOP Senate Candidates Tangled Over Education, 2020 Election Results :: WRAL.com

– Three of North Carolina’s top Republican Senate candidates described what they would do to fight student debt and how they think racism should be taught in K-12 schools in an hour-long debate Wednesday. They also weighed in on the 2020 election, the influence of outside spending in the race and whether they would support the party candidate.

Former Governor Pat McCrory, former U.S. Representative Mark Walker and Army veteran Marjorie K. Eastman are seeking to fill retired U.S. Senator Richard Burr’s seat. They faced off for an hour on Wednesday in the third debate of this year’s primary season.

Primary race favorite U.S. Representative Ted Budd, who avoided debates in this race, was again absent. It was his third such absence. Jonathan Felts, an adviser to Budd, said the congressman attended events in Montgomery, Richmond, Scotland and Hoke counties on Wednesday rather than attending the debate.

Here are three takeaways from the Spectrum News event:

1. CRT, student debt elicit mixed opinions. McCrory, Budd’s main opponent, blamed colleges and universities for the rising cost of education. He urged campuses to lower tuition and said the federal government should ensure schools receive federal dollars based on a student’s ability to secure employment that pays for their degree.

“Any future money in education needs to be targeted where children and adults can find jobs,” McCrory said.

The former governor also pushed back on ads he considers misleading, including one released Wednesday by a Washington, D.C. political action committee that claimed he supported Democrats on the school’s textbook commission. status while in office from 2012 to 2016.

State law states that members must be appointed by the governor on the recommendation of the state superintendent of public instruction. Democrat June St. Clair Atkinson held the elective office throughout McCrory’s tenure.

McCrory, in the debate, said the group, Club for Growth Action, was “lying about my record on CRT,” a reference to critical race theory, a high-level academic framework for thinking about the history of growth. America through the prism of racism. The term has become something of a catch-all phrase to describe racial concepts that some conservatives find objectionable.

Walker said his family has been personally affected by the issue.

“I have a daughter in high school and one in college,” Walker said. “I see some of the propaganda trying to be implemented in their own studies.”

During a briefing with reporters after the debate, Walker said his high school daughter, a sophomore, had an instructor who he said tried to argue that because the student was from a white, privileged background, she should take a backseat to someone. of lesser means.

“Can I tie that directly to the fact that it is part of the CRT curriculum that is taught in our college and masters levels? No. But it’s the general idea that runs counter to what Martin Luther King Jr. pushed: that we shouldn’t be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character,” Walker said. .

Eastman, a Cary mother of a young child at school, couldn’t identify a specific example of CRT being taught in a classroom, but said “parents deserve a say” on the way their children are taught.

On the issue of college affordability, Walker and Eastman referred to programs for aspiring teachers and the military that cover or help cover college tuition.

Walker, a former Greensboro-area congressman, said during the debate that he wouldn’t rule out the idea of ​​some student loans being forgiven to a select group of people who served in the community. He said he opposes broader student bailouts that would ultimately be paid for by US taxpayers.

Walker said after the debate that he and his wife racked up more than $20,000 in student debt after his wife went to Winston-Salem State University while he worked as a pastor. He said Budd, who had worked in his family’s farming business in his early adult life, could not relate to voters from more humble backgrounds.

“That’s one of the reasons why I feel close to the people who live in this environment.” Walker told reporters. “Unlike Mr. Budd, my father doesn’t have millions of dollars. I’m not a trust fund baby. I’m someone who had to go out there and work hard, my wife and me. We appreciate these kitchen table problems that North Carolina families have to solve.

Jonathan Felts, an adviser to Budd, said building a successful business shouldn’t be a point of criticism, and that Walker’s comment “is something I would expect from someone showing up at a Democratic primary, not a Republican primary.

“It’s almost like Mark Walker doesn’t know what he stands for anymore,” Felts said in a statement.

2. Candidates tangle over 2020 results, argues 2022 GOP nominee. McCrory and Walker said they would support whichever Republican emerges victorious in the May 17 primary election. Eastman declined to commit to supporting the eventual candidate and noted that she had strong policy differences with Budd.

“It’s a family feud that’s not good,” Eastman said. “It’s going to be really hard to get back together.”

When asked for an answer in the debate, she said she believed in a conservative party.

Felts said Budd would support the Republican nominee.

Asked about their attitude in the 2020 election, McCrory and Eastman acknowledged President Joe Biden’s victory over then-President Donald Trump. Walker did the same, but offered a hedge.

“I do not believe [the election] was stolen, but I don’t think it’s fair and square at the same time because of the discrepancies,” Walker said before expressing concern about the widespread use of mail-in voting due to the pandemic.

A WRAL News online survey of 2,068 registered North Carolina voters this month showed that 69% of respondents had at least some confidence that their primary ballot would be accurately counted. One in four Republicans were confident their vote would be counted accurately, while 38% said they had some confidence it would be accurately recorded.

Most respondents, including 71% of registered Republicans and a plurality of registered Democrats, said they would support a proposal to require mail-in ballots to arrive on Election Day.

The poll, conducted April 6-10, reported a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

3. External expenditures under surveillance. All of the candidates took aim at Club for Growth, the influential political action committee that has pledged to spend at least $14 million to boost Budd.

“We have too many people right now trying to buy and steal this election,” Eastman said.

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Walker slammed the name of the group’s chairman, David McIntosh, while McCrory said he doesn’t believe voters will ultimately fall for the ads he considers misleading.

“We have too many people right now trying to buy and steal this election through a third-party group running deceptive and deceptive ads trying to buy your vote,” McCrory said. “This seat is not for sale and neither am I.”

Joe Kildea, a spokesperson for the Club for Growth, responded with a statement questioning McCrory’s background and touting the high-profile endorsements Budd received from Trump and Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson.

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