Under the Dome

NC Senate leader Phil Berger adds to state’s presidential endorsement list

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to the media prior to his rally at Calvary Baptist Church Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in Raleigh, N.C.
Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to the media prior to his rally at Calvary Baptist Church Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in Raleigh, N.C. jhknight@newsobserver.com

An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller had endorsed Bernie Sanders. Miller said late Monday that he has endorsed Sanders’ economic plan but not his candidacy.

Senate leader Phil Berger became the latest North Carolina elected official to weigh in on the presidential race Monday, issuing a endorsement of Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

In what’s known as the “invisible primary,” the presidential candidates have been lining up prominent supporters and donors in key states like North Carolina. But the most powerful three GOP politicians in Raleigh – Gov. Pat McCrory, House Speaker Tim Moore and Berger – had stayed out of the fray. McCrory and Moore still haven’t made endorsements.

Berger said he’s backing Cruz because he thinks Cruz offers the best chance for a Republican victory in November.

“Of the two candidates with a realistic chance to win the Republican nomination for president, only Ted Cruz can defeat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the general election this November,” Berger said in a news release. “Ted Cruz is a principled outsider with a proven track record on fiscal and social issues that conservatives can count on.”

Berger praised frontrunner Donald Trump, who he said has “stood up to the liberal media and he’s challenged the political correctness that is tearing apart the cultural fabric that has made America great.” But Berger noted that some polls show Trump would lose to Clinton.

Here’s a few of the North Carolina politicians and donors who have backed other candidates:

Marco Rubio: Businessman Art Pope, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, N.C. Rep. Jason Saine, N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock

John Kasich: Former Gov. Jim Martin, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr

Donald Trump: N.C. Sen. Ronald Rabin

Hillary Clinton: N.C. House Democratic Leader Larry Hall, former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, former Gov. Bev Perdue, N.C. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and numerous other Democratic legislators and members of Congress

Bernie Sanders: U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Griffin, Congressional candidate John McNeil