RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump endorsed a health care lobbyist for a central North Carolina congressional seat on Wednesday, choosing him before the candidate had publicly unveiled his bid.

What You Need To Know

  • A Davidson County health care lobbyist won former President Donald Trump's endorsement for the 6th Congressional District race

  • Addison McDowell announced his candidacy after Trump issued his endorsement

  • McDowell had not filed to run for the seat as of Wednesday, but a campaign official said he would turn in candidacy papers by the filing deadline Friday

Trump said on his Truth Social account that he was backing Republican Addison McDowell in the 6th Congressional District, writing that if elected McDowell will “work hard to Secure the Border, Defend the Second Amendment, Lower your Taxes, Grow our Economy, and Strengthen the Military.”

McDowell, a registered lobbyist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, previously worked for GOP Rep. Richard Hudson's campaign and as a district staffer for then-Rep. Ted Budd, who is now a U.S. senator.

Trump chose McDowell over other Republican candidates already in the race, including Bo Hines, whom Trump had endorsed for the 13th District seat in 2022. Hines narrowly lost in the general election to Democrat Wiley Nickel. Also in the 6th District GOP field is former Rep. Mark Walker, who represented a Greensboro-area district for six years through 2020. Walker ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2022, losing to the Trump-endorsed Budd.

The primary is March 5.

Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning, who represents the current 6th District, said last week that she wouldn't seek reelection in 2024 because redistricting enacted by the state legislature this fall is slanted toward Republicans and prevents her from winning. As of Wednesday, no Democrat had filed for the nomination in the reconfigured district, which includes parts of Greensboro, Salisbury and Concord.

McDowell highlighted the endorsement when he put out his own release to announce that he was running for the seat minutes after Trump’s message. McDowell visited Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida to meet with the ex-president on Tuesday, campaign adviser Jonathan Felts said.

McDowell, a native of Davidson County — one of the six counties that comprise the 6th District — had not filed as a candidate as of late Wednesday. Felts said that McDowell would turn his candidacy papers at the State Board of Elections before the candidacy filing period ends at noon Friday.