Kelly Daughtry steps down from North Carolina race after Trump backs her opponent

 May 5, 2024

Kelly Daughtry has withdrawn from a contentious run-off in the North Carolina primary race after former President Donald Trump endorsed her opponent, Brad Knott, The Hill reported. Both were in the running for the Congressional seat in the state's District 13, hoping to flip it from the Democrats.

Neither Daughtry nor Knott were able to secure enough votes in the March 5 primary to become the decisive winner. The state requires a candidate to receive 30% of the vote, but Daughtry and Knott received 27.4% and 18.7%, respectively.

This triggered a runoff, slated to occur on May 17. However, Trump put his support behind Knott last month and tipped the scales enough for Daughtry to step aside, as she explained in a statement Thursday.

"In light of President Trump’s endorsement of Brad Knott for the Congressional seat in District 13, it has become clear that a pathway to victory is no longer feasible. I believe in the democratic process and respect the endorsement of our President," she said in the announcement.

Supporting the Party

Despite the fact that the once-frontrunner has decided to step down, she did not take any potshots at her former opponent. Instead, she promised a continued commitment to supporting Republicans and even Knott.

"The time has now come to suspend my campaign. Although I will no longer be a candidate, I will not stop using my voice for the things I believe in. I will focus on conservative voter registration operations and supporting the nominated conservative judicial candidates running in November," Daughtry's statement promised.

"Brad Knott will be the Republican nominee on May 14th. I extend my congratulations to him and wish him well," Daughtry continued.

"Brad has my full endorsement, and I want him to know that I am here to support him, not to oppose him. It is time we bring the Republican Party together," she added.

"I have asked my supporters to formally support Brad’s campaign. Likewise, I have spoken with Brad and know he will advocate and fight for the entire District. We are all on the same team and I hope that the ending of my campaign at this time will show and foster our unity as a party," Daughtry said.

Not Quite the End

Although Daughtry stepped aside, Knott urged supporters to get out the vote in the primary as the race wasn't quite sewn up for him. "While Kelly has ended her campaign, this election is not over," Knott said in a statement, according to Fox News.

"I strongly encourage my supporters to get out and vote on May 14," he added. Because of the short time between her announcement and the runoff, Daughtry's name will still appear on the ballot.

As for Knott, he now has a good chance of turning the district from the Democrats to the Republicans. The seat is currently held by first-term Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel, who decided not to run for reelection after redistricting made it a more conservative area.

Republicans are looking to hold onto their majority in Congress following the 2024 election cycle, and flipping another seat would go a long way to securing that. Knott will face off against Frank Pierce, who became the Democratic candidate after running unopposed, Axios reported.

Another Republican victory in a previously Democratic district could be significant for the GOP. At the very least, Daughtry's departure proves that Trump still has clout in the Republican Party as he heads to his own bid for the presidency.

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