North Carolina Democratic State Senator Jeff Jackson has withdrawn from next year's race for U.S. Senate.

Early on, Jackson, an Iraq War veteran with a young family, was seen as a strong frontrunner with a persuasive resume. He ran an energetic campaign, including town hall meetings in each of North Carolina's 100 counties.

But former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley — who joined the race in late April — quickly built a sizable war chest. Beasley, a judge with 20 years of experience and a proven statewide office winner, also built a growing roster of key endorsements, including most recently longtime Representative David Price. 

Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer says for Jackson, a rising star in the party, the prospect of a drawn-out, negative campaign against a potentially historic candidate made the choice clear.

“And I think for the politics of the Democratic party and particularly the role that African American women play in that party's politics, this was probably a recognition of my time is better served potentially in the future and to recognize what history is confronting him with,” says Bitzer.

Bitzer says in terms of the general election, Democrats have an uphill battle before them in November 2022. It's rare for a president's party to win seats, and even rarer to add them. And Republican voters tend to turn out in greater numbers in midterm elections than Democrats.

But Wake Forest University political science professor John Dinan says Jackson's decision to drop out and his quick endorsement of Beasley provides a glimmer of hope for their party.

“Republicans are going to have a contested primary, and it's even been bitter at times,” says Dinan. "Democrats looked like they might be having one of those primaries, and now they will not be. So, they're breathing a sigh of relief. They see this gives them perhaps a leg up in what's likely to be a tough election year for Democrats nationally.”

On Thursday, Jackson officially endorsed Beasley. She will likely face either former GOP Governor Pat McCrory, or Representative Ted Budd, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

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