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NASCAR legend Richard Petty endorses Castelli for NC-6

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NASCAR legend Richard Petty endorses Castelli for NC-6

Dec 11, 2023 | 12:32 pm ET
By Joe Killian
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NASCAR legend Richard Petty endorses Castelli for NC-6
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Racing legend Richrad Petty (Photo: Screengrab from Christian Castelli's YouTube channel)

[Editorial note: The week of 2/26/24, the Petty family began publicly disputing that Richard Petty has endorsed Castelli in this cycle and criticizing the campaign for again using the 2022 video Petty recorded for Petty’s campaign. When originally reporting this story, Newsline confirmed the re-endorsement via e-mail. This week, Castelli himself produced a December e-mail wherein he confirmed Petty’s verbal endorsement for this cycle with the family and they acknowledged it.

The Petty family now says Richard Petty does not intend to  endorse anyone in the NC-6 GOP primary.

Castelli now says he believes the entry of former Congressman Mark Walker into the race has made the family more reticent about endorsing this close to the GOP primary.]

This week NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty is weighing in on the race for the NC-6 congressional district, endorsing Republican Christian Castelli on Monday.

“I know a leader and fighter when I see one,” said Petty in a written statement. “And believe me, Colonel Christian Castelli is a leader who will fight for North Carolina values. He’s a Green Beret who has served our country in uniform. He knows how to keep us safe and will stand with law enforcement.”

The 86-year-old Petty, a North Carolina native and stock car racing legend, has repeatedly ventured into GOP politics over the years — sometimes more successfully than others. He won election as a Republican on the Randolph County Board of Commissioners, serving from 1978 to 1990 and formed a state political action committee to support GOP candidates in 1993. In 1996 he was the Republican candidate for the N.C. Secretary of State, losing to Democrat Elaine Marshall.

He’s seen mixed results with endorsements over the years, backing John Connally over Ronald Reagan for president in 1980 and appearing with Donald Trump during a Greensboro campaign stop in 2016.

Petty also endorsed Castelli in a 2022 YouTube video, when the retired Army lieutenant colonel won the crowded Republican primary in 6th congressional district, but lost in the general to the incumbent, Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Manning.

Last week, Manning announced she would not run in the newly redrawn district, which is solidly Republican.

“Remarkably, and not coincidentally, the newly drawn Sixth District gives a sixteen-point advantage to a Republican candidate over a Democratic candidate,” Manning said in a statement last week. “As a Greensboro resident of forty years, I am disgusted by the callous disregard of Republican leaders for the citizens of my district. Politicians should not choose their voters; voters should choose their representatives.”

No other Democrats have yet announced or filed to run in the district as of Monday.

The Republican primary for NC-6, scheduled for March 5, is again a crowded field. Mary Ann Contogiannis, Bo Hines, Jay Wagner, and Mark Walker have all declared.

Walker represented the district for six years, until it was redrawn in 2021, leading Walker to make a failed run at a Senate seat. He had declared his intention to run for governor but pivoted to NC-6 in October after new maps were released and he said he didn’t see a “clear path” to victory in a gubernatorial race so far dominated by Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.