Under the Dome

DSCC backs Ross for US Senate in rare primary endorsement

Deborah Ross
Deborah Ross News & Observer file photo

Deborah Ross has picked up a big endorsement in her campaign for the U.S. Senate – from the campaign arm of the national Democratic Party.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has thrown its weight behind the former Wake County lawmaker. It’s rare for the DSCC to back a candidate in a Democratic primary, and could steer donors her way.

Ross is one of four Democrats fighting for the seat held by Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who faces three opponents in the March 15 GOP primary.

She faces businessman Kevin Griffin of Durham, Ernest Reeves of Greenville and Chris Rey, mayor of the Cumberland County town of Spring Lake.

“Deborah was recognized as one of North Carolina’s most effective legislators during her time in the state legislature, and her commitment to fighting for North Carolina families is unwavering,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, chairman of the DSCC, said in a release. “We are proud to support her in this campaign and eager to welcome her to the Senate next fall.”

This year the DSCC has only endorsed three other Senate candidates in primaries.

The announcement marks Ross’s second major endorsement in a week.

Last week she was endorsed by Emily’s List, a group that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights. In 2014, the group helped pump an estimated $4 million into former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s campaign.

Griffin’s campaign criticized the DSCC’s move in a news release Thursday, saying the endorsement “undermines the will of North Carolina Democratic primary voters.”

“From the very beginning, this campaign has spoken out on issues that generally make the establishment cringe, such as the need for term limits and an added emphasis on transparency,” Griffin campaign manager Jeff Worcester said. “In the end, the decision remains in the hands of voters.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill