Cheri Beasley hoping to make history again, this time as U.S. Senator

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cheri Beasley has had a successful career on the bench which she hopes now can help move her to the Beltway.

"All of my years in service I have been in court, I have been upholding the Constitution, and upholding the rule of law, and making sure laws are applied equally to people in this state," Beasley, the former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, told ABC11 in an exclusive interview. "Every single thing the Senate does is grounded in the law."

Just five months after losing re-election to the State Supreme Court by 401 votes to Republican Paul Newby, Beasley entered what could be the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Richard Burr. Despite earlier facing competition from fellow Democrats Erica Smith and State Sen. Jeff Jackson, Beasley has since become the presumptive Democratic nominee as the former have dropped out of the race - a big distinction from the four-way race among North Carolina Republicans.

"So many people care deeply about costs and lowering those costs," Beasley explained on her motivation for running. "So many families are challenged right now, and as I'm speaking to people across the state, they want a senator who is going to fight to make sure they have access to health care, and strengthen the economy here in this state, and be responsive to their needs."

Beasley made history in 2019 when she was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to serve as Chief Justice - the first African American woman to hold that position. If elected to the U.S. Senate, she'll be the first African American woman to represent North Carolina in the chamber.

"Diversity really does matter," Beasley explained. "I can tell you the first time I was ever in the courtroom and saw an African American woman presiding, for me that was life-changing. "I think people feel ownership and trust and confidence when we have diversity, which benefits us all."

Still, Beasley insisted diversity is not the motivation for her candidacy, and that is not how she wants to define her campaign.

"My role as the next senator for the state of North Carolina is to fight for the people in this state, to make sure we lift up the issues people care deeply about, that are impacting people's everyday lives. I'll do that and I'll fight for legislation that's impactful, that's grounded in humanity. That's exactly what people want here in this state."

As the presumptive nominee, Beasley will be on the ballot in November against either former Governor Pat McCrory, Congressman Ted Budd, former Congressman Mark Walker, and military veteran Marjorie Eastman.

No Democrat has won an election for U.S. Senate in North Carolina since the late Kay Hagan in 2008.

WATCH: Extended interview with Cheri Beasley
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Cheri Beasley is the frontrunner to become the Democratic candidate to replace Sen. Richard Burr.

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