Aug. 20—HENDERSON — Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, is retiring from his seat after 17 years in office. Candidates from both major and minor parties as well as write-in candidates have put their hats in the ring. Cheri Beasley is the Democratic candidate, having won the primary with 81% of the vote.
As part of her "Standing Up for North Carolina" tour, Beasley stopped by Perry Memorial Library on Friday to talk to members of the community and local Democratic politicians about the upcoming election and her platform.
"I want to talk just a little bit about my family," Beasley said during the campaign appearance, "and then we're gonna talk about how I'm gonna win this race."
Her grandparents met in Alabama and left the state in order to pursue a better life — by hopping a train en route to Nashville, Tennessee.
She said her mother instilled within her values like hard work and service. Beasley and her husband work to instill those same values in their twin sons.
Beasley decried the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states to ban abortion as they see fit. She called it the first time in American history a constitutional right has been taken away.
"I know we're all told that 2020 was the most important election of our lifetimes," Beasley said. "But if [my mother] were here, she would tell us that every election is the most important election of our lifetimes. We can ill afford to ever take our foot off of the gas for the fight for democracy."
The upcoming senatorial election, Beasley said, represents one of the "top three best opportunities in the country" to flip a Senate seat and secure a Democratic majority. "We have got to stand strong in this election, and if we do that, we will win."
One local asked if eliminating gerrymandering was possible, she said there "are certainly opportunities to do exactly that."
Another audience member asked if the Electoral College — which decides presidential elections — could be done away with. She said "that is something to consider."
"I'm not really sure the framers [of the Constitution] could have foreseen how populations would grow and shift 200-plus years ago," she said.
One man asked whether the Green Party candidate, Matthew Hoh, would affect Beasley's chances of winning.
"You know, I said from the beginning, regardless of who the challengers were, we were ready and prepared to win this fight," Beasley said. "We still are."
Beasley argued that she's the only candidate who "cares about the people in North Carolina, who has a proven record of working hard for people in North Carolina and not who is entranced with the pettiness of partisan politics in Washington."
"Unfortunately [Medicaid] is not expanding," Beasley said. "We are one of 12 states in the country that does not have Medicaid expansion and it is wrong. It's just wrong."
Vance County Commissioner Leo Kelly asked whether Beasley's campaign would respond to ads put out by Republican candidate Ted Budd's campaign.
"I can't tell you we plan on counteracting anything that he does, but we plan on proffering our own messages about what's happening," Beasley said. "But I think it's fair to say that people really are feeling the pain of rising costs, from pain at the pump to groceries to prescription drug costs. And it would be disingenuous for me to come here and tell you all that that is not a real issue."
Beasley did say Budd has taken "tens of thousands of corporate [political action committee] money and vote[d] accordingly." Beasley has promised not to take any PAC money.
"There's no reason to dance around what's happening," Beasley said. "In North Carolina, we have been ill-served for far too long — and you deserve better. Particularly out in rural communities — the state extends far beyond Charlotte, and Raleigh and Durham."
She said she will be fighting to get "the support, and the tools and resources" to all communities in the state.
Beasley has a long career in politics, having served as the chief justice of North Carolina's Supreme Court — the first African American woman to do so — from 2019 to 2020.
Beasley thanked local politicians in attendance, such as Mayor Eddie Ellington and Commissioner Kelly, for offering themselves "for service." She emphasized the importance of other races in the upcoming election, particularly the races for judicial seats.