By GARY D. ROBERTSON and STEVE PEOPLES
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Ted Budd is leaning into his support for abortion restrictions and his allegiance to former President Donald Trump as Democrats fight for an elusive victory in the Southern swing state. Democratic optimism remains tempered given the state’s recent red tilt. But Democratic officials believe Budd’s candidacy gives them a real chance at flipping a Senate seat — and the balance of power in Washington — this fall. Budd appeared alongside Trump at a rally in Wilmington Friday night, where the former president praised the candidate as “a conservative, America First all-star in Congress” and urged his supporters to turn out to vote.