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Video: Combat veteran, author joins GOP field in North Carolina’s Senate race

The U.S. Capitol Building. (Dreamstime/TNS)
October 14, 2021

There’s a new Republican candidate in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race — and she’s hoping her combat background and lack of political experience can help her stand out in a field with three men atop the polls.

Marjorie K. Eastman, who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Eastman, 42, is married to a retired Army Ranger and pilot who served 17 combat tours and is the mother a 9-year-old boy, who is a cancer survivor. She lives in Cary.

“We need leaders in Washington, not career politicians,” Eastman said in a telephone interview Tuesday morning. “I’m a battle-tested leader, not a career politician. I want to serve a tour of duty and be the next senator from North Carolina.”

Former Gov. Pat McCrory, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker are among the Republican candidates seeking to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in the November 2022 election. The primary is in March, and the top-tier contenders have been running for months, locking up endorsements and traveling the state.

Eastman is a first-time candidate. She said the deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan pushed her into the race, though she’d been considering a run for a while. She called the manner of the withdrawal “an avoidable disaster” and said one solution is to “stop sending career politicians” to Washington, linking the experience of McCrory, Budd and Walker to President Joe Biden’s long tenure in capital.

“At the end of the day, I’m a soldier and I want to go where the fight is. The fight is in the Senate. Our country hinges on that tenuous 50-50 deadlock. That’s where we need to send leaders, not career politicians,” Eastman said.

Eastman pledged in her campaign launch video that she would serve only two terms. “I’m not there to put up a tent and make this a career,” she said.

In her launch video, Eastman called herself a conservative, who is pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment. She mentioned her support for capitalism and warned of the “creeping socialism” in Washington. Not mentioned in her video or on her website: former President Donald Trump.

Trump, who carried North Carolina twice in his presidential elections, remains the most popular Republican in the country among GOP voters. He endorsed Budd in June, giving the three-term congressman a boost. Eastman noted that the endorsement came before she was in the race.

“I believe him and the people that support him and people across the Republican Party and unaffiliated voters will hear my message, see what I stand for and support that,” Eastman said.

Eastman said her campaign’s focus would be security, the economy and education, including helping move the country through the coronavirus pandemic.

Eastman joined the U.S. Army Reserves after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and was awarded a direct commission within two years, according to her biography. She was an intelligence officer and commander and was awarded the Bronze Star. She served in Iraq in 2003 and in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.

“I’m the political outsider. I’m independent. I served in combat as a commander and intelligence officer. None of those other guys have done that,” she said.

Eastman wrote a 2016 book about her service, “The Frontline Generation: How We Served Post 9/11.” She holds an MBA from Vanderbilt and a master’s degree in international security.

Eastman said she and her husband met while stationed at Fort Bragg in the early 2000s and when they finally had the option of where to live, they chose Cary in 2018.

North Carolina has sent two women to the U.S. Senate — Republican Elizabeth Dole (2003-09) and Democrat Kay Hagan (2009-15).

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