Former North Carolina frontrunner drops congressional bid after Trump endorses opponent

Kelly Daughtry, who just suspended her campaign, said she respected Trump's decision to endorse her opponent Brad Knott, and urged her supporters to unite around Knott.

Published: May 2, 2024 10:07pm

A one-time GOP frontrunner for North Carolina's 13th congressional district dropped her bid for the seat on Thursday, after former President Donald Trump formally endorsed her opponent.

Trump endorsed Brad Knott for the Republican nomination last month, after Knott and former frontrunner Kelly Daughtry advanced to a runoff election for the nomination. Daughtry finished first in the initial March primary, but failed to secure 30% of the vote needed for the nomination, leading to a runoff between Knott and Daughtry on May 14.

Daughtry, who just suspended her campaign, said she respected Trump's decision to endorse Knott. She also urged her supporters to unite around Knott.

“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,” Daughtry said in a statement, the Hill reported. “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."

Trump claimed that Daughtry was a "RINO" who previously supported Democratic policies, and allegedly said she would vote for former President Barack Obama. But he praised Knott in his endorsement as a former federal prosecutor who will "hold Joe Biden and the Radical Left ACCOUNTABLE for their unconstitutional lawfare, corruption, and ELECTION INTERFERENCE." 

The district is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel, who is not running for reelection after his district was redrawn with a more conservative leaning. Knott will face Democrat Frank Pierce instead.

“To those who voted for me — thank you for believing in me and giving me the civic and sacred honor of your vote,” Daughtry said. “The time is now for Republicans to unite together and win in November. I will be right beside you in working to deliver that victory.”

Knott praised Daughtry's endorsement, but told his supporters to still show up and vote, because Daughtry's name will still appear on the ballot in the runoff.

"While Kelly has ended her campaign, this election is not over," Knott said in a statement shared with Fox News. "I strongly encourage my supporters to get out and vote on May 14."

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