Richard Burr’s Vote to Convict Renews Talk of a Lara Trump Run in North Carolina
Senator Richard M. Burr’s decision to vote for the conviction of former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday added fuel to speculation that Lara Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter in-law, will seek the North Carolina Senate seat Mr. Burr will vacate in 2022.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a former Trump critic turned stalwart defender, on Sunday predicted that Mr. Burr’s somewhat surprising dissent would prompt a revolt from the right that would result in the election of more pro-Trump candidates.
“My friend Richard Burr just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs,” he said in an interview on Fox News.
Ms. Trump, 38, a former personal trainer and television producer who grew up in Wilmington, on the coast, has been floating herself as a possible Burr successor for months, hoping to capitalize on the family name and her fund-raising efforts on behalf of the former president.
But it is complicated.
Ms. Trump currently lives with her husband, Eric, and their children in the northern suburbs of New York City and would have to move back.
And several ambitious in-state Republicans, including former Representative Mark Walker, a Trump ally, and Pat McCrory, a former governor, are possible candidates. Mark Meadows, the former North Carolina representative and former Trump chief of staff, has been named as a possible contender, though he has remained mum on the matter.
Moreover, the Trump family name may be a liability in a jump-ball battleground that the former president won by a mere 1.3 percentage points in 2020.
North Carolina, like Georgia, has been trending blue thanks to an influx of educated suburbanites. And Ms. Trump’s candidacy could help increase Democratic turnout, especially among the state’s large Black population, countering the typical falloff experienced in most midterm elections.
In a possible sign of weakness for the Trump brand, Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican who ran for re-election in 2020, narrowly outperformed Mr. Trump in the state last year — even though he was aided by a scandal that engulfed his Democratic opponent (Mr. Tillis, unlike Mr. Burr, voted against conviction).
But Ms. Trump’s boosters, led by Mr. Graham, are hoping she can use the angry backlash in the party’s base to catapult her to the front of the field.
After Mr. Burr’s vote, the North Carolina G.O.P. rebuked Mr. Burr, calling his vote “shocking and disappointing.” On Instagram Live on Saturday, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, lashed out at Mr. Burr using a profane insult that questioned his manhood.
Mr. Burr, who is retiring when his term ends after the 2022 election, had, at times, a chilly relationship with Mr. Trump. As head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Burr led a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
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