White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows dismissed speculation that he would run for the U.S. Senate in 2022 when Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) retires at the end of his third term, as the incumbent senator has previously said he plans to do.
“I love the people of North Carolina. But I not only have no plans, I have no intentions to run for the Senate in 2022,” Meadows told the North Carolina-based News & Observer in a phone interview Friday.
But Meadows, who stepped down from his congressional seat to join the Trump administration, also gave a nod to the speculation that Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and North Carolina native, has shown interest in running for the Senate seat herself.
“I’ve had a number of people talk about running for that seat, if indeed Sen. Burr retires,” remarked Meadows. “My conversations have included some of the sitting House members as well as Lara Trump, and, to my knowledge, no one’s made a definitive decision on whether to toss their hat in the ring or not.”
“But in terms of my hat, it won’t be in the ring,” he added.
It’s unclear what Meadows’ next step would be after the Trump administration. Madison Cawthorne, 25, a former part-time Meadows staffer, recently won the general election to take over the congressman’s previous House seat.
As for the North Carolina Senate seat, The New York Times and Politico have reported that Lara Trump, 38, has been considering a bid for the soon-to-be-open seat.
A former television producer and professional pastry chef, Lara Trump currently lives in New York state with her husband Eric Trump but has deep roots in North Carolina where she was both raised and attended college.
“She would be formidable,” Kellyanne Conway, the president’s 2016 campaign manager and former counselor, told the Times of Lara Trump. “She has the trifecta: She can raise money, raise awareness of key issues and raise attention to her race. Unlike many typical politicians, she connects with people and is a compelling messenger.”
“She’s very charismatic, she understands retail politics well, and has a natural instinct for politics,” said Mercedes Schlapp, an adviser to the president’s campaign. “In North Carolina, in particular, she’s a household name and people know her. She worked really hard on the campaign and was very involved in a lot of decisions throughout.”
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Lara Trump made campaign stops on behalf of the president in North Carolina, which President Donald Trump carried in 2020 by a slightly more than 1% margin. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the state’s current junior senator, carried the state by a slightly larger margin but received fewer votes than Trump.
According to Politico, Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC), who declined to seek re-election in the House this year, is also a “likely contender” for the Senate seat.
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