Walker not running for reelection in House, will consider 2022 Senate bid

North Carolina Republican faced troubles after redistricting, said Trump will support him for Senate

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., takes the Senate subway in the Capitol on Oct. 16, 2019. Walker announced Monday that he will not seek reelection to the House next year but will consider a Senate bid in 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., takes the Senate subway in the Capitol on Oct. 16, 2019. Walker announced Monday that he will not seek reelection to the House next year but will consider a Senate bid in 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted December 16, 2019 at 8:02pm

North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Walker announced Monday that he will not run for reelection in the House next year but is considering running for Senate in 2022.

“I believe the best way we can continue to serve the people of North Carolina is as a United States Senator,” Walker said in a statement. “As I have always sought to have serving people supersede our ambition, I will dedicate my full heart and efforts to finishing my term in Congress. After we have secured more conservative policy and Republican electoral victories for North Carolina, we will take a look at the 2022 Senate race and we are thankful to have President [Donald] Trump’s support.”

Walker’s district became significantly more Democratic as a result of recent redistricting. Under the new North Carolina congressional lines, the 6th District will go from having backed Trump by 15 points in 2016 to one that would have backed Clinton by nearly 22 points.

While running for reelection to the House in the new district would have been difficult, Walker also would have faced challenges if he jumped into the 2020 Senate race. Trump has already endorsed the Republican incumbent, Sen. Thom Tillis.

But North Carolina’s other Senate seat will be open in 2022 as Republican Sen. Richard Burr has already announced his plans to retire after his current six-year term. 

Trump’s endorsement of Walker to run for Burr’s seat will likely discourage other Republicans from mounting bids. 

North Carolina GOP consultant Jonathan Felts told CQ Roll Call in December that Walker had “three bad options — run in a Dem majority district, challenge an incumbent colleague, or challenge a sitting senator.”

 

“He’d be better off seeking that seat as the victim of judicial activism rather than as someone who ran and lost a primary in 2020,” Felts said of the 2022 Senate vacancy.

Walker is vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, the No. 4 position in GOP leadership. In deciding not to run for reelection, he’s abandoning his position in the top rank of House Republicans to pursue an opportunity to become a low-ranking Senate Republican. But oftentimes the prestige of being one of 100 senators is more significant than a position in House leadership, especially with his party in the minority. 

Walker, who is the North Carolina co-chairman of Trump’s reelection campaign, said he plans to help other Republicans on the ballot next November.

“For 2020, our focus will be on helping our candidates for president, Senate, and governor be successful,” he said.