- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Sen. Richard Burr’s retirement — and the North Carolina Republican’s vote to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol rampage — is helping to generate all sorts of buzz about Lara Trump’s political future.

Mrs. Trump, the wife of the former president’s son Eric, is a native of North Carolina and has often been mentioned as one of the more likely members of the Trump family to step out of the shadow of her father-in-law and into the political spotlight.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina sent the speculation into overdrive over the weekend after he endorsed her bid, although she has not announced any candidacy.

“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,” Mr. Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If she runs, I will certainly be behind her, because I think she represents the future of the Republican Party.”

Mrs. Trump, 38, has never run for public office, but it might not matter given the former president’s grip on the party.

A Politico survey released Tuesday found Mr. Trump was the top choice of more than half of Republican voters heading into the 2024 presidential election.

Former Vice President Mike Pence was his closest competition, receiving 12%, followed by Donald Trump Jr. and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, both of whom registered 6% in the poll.

A representative for Eric Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Mr. Burr was among the seven Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to convict Mr. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Clark Brown, former chairman of the Davidson County, North Carolina, GOP, said Mrs. Trump would generate tons of energy in the Republican ranks if she ran.

“I think a lot of people who would have thought about running would not run if she was in there,” Mr. Brown said. “Nobody likes to know they are going to get beat going into a primary.

 “I think she would have a really good chance — especially after this recent vote to censure Richard Burr.”

The North Carolina GOP unanimously approved a resolution Monday to censure Mr. Burr over his vote to convict Mr. Trump during his second impeachment trial.

“I think that the Republicans across North Carolina, the party leaders I talked to were shocked and disappointed with Sen. Burr’s vote and wanted to put out a statement that said we disagreed with him,” North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Watley said Tuesday on CNN.

“I had conversations with over 100 leaders across North Carolina over the three days following Sen. Burr’s vote and there was universal disapproval of the vote itself.”

Mr. Burr said in a statement the vote marked a “truly sad day for North Carolina Republicans.”

“My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation,” he said.

Nonetheless, hard-line conservative Republicans have long been disappointed with Mr. Burr’s performance on Capitol Hill. Fellow North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis also has been criticized for straying too far from the party’s base, which has added to the sense that the intraparty scrum over Mr. Burr’s seat could be intense.

Former Rep. Mark Walker announced in December he was seeking the GOP nomination for the seat. Former Rep. Mark Meadows, who served as Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, also is thought to be among the possible contenders for the party’s nomination.

The seat is a top target of Democrats.

Mr. Burr has served in the Senate since 2004 and was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2014 to 2020.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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