Republican Rep. Ted Budd speaks at a Make America Great Again rally in Greensboro, North Carolina in October.
CNN  — 

Rep. Ted Budd launched his North Carolina Senate campaign on Wednesday, aligning himself with former President Donald Trump in a 2022 bid for the crucial seat.

The congressman, who was first elected in 2016, had been widely expected to run to replace the retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr. He joins a growing primary field including former Gov. Pat McCrory and former US Rep. Mark Walker.

Budd announced his decision in a video featuring a monster truck called the “liberal agenda crusher,” clips of Trump praising Budd, and attacks on the Left.

He charged that Democratic leaders in Washington were “shredding our Constitution,” creating an “unprecedented crisis” at the US-Mexico border, “cutting” American jobs and “mortgaging our children’s future” by adding to the debt. He warned that the Senate is “the last line of defense” against the US becoming a “woke socialist wasteland.”

“I’m a small businessman who was so fed up with the liberals’ attacks on our faith, our families and our way of life that I ran for Congress to stand and fight alongside Donald Trump, drain the swamp and take our country back,” Budd said.

The congressman’s announcement was a clear effort to woo Trump and his supporters, who won North Carolina in 2016 and 2020. Budd met with the former president on Friday evening at Trump’s Florida retreat Mar-a-Lago, according to his political adviser, and previously joined the former president in his effort to overturn the 2020 election, which has become an early litmus test in GOP primaries.

McCrory supported Congress’ certification of Trump’s loss, arguing that it’s the conservative position to hold states, rather than the federal government, responsible for their elections.

But in January, Budd voted to throw out the electoral results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, just hours after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. He and Walker also signed onto a Texas lawsuit seeking to discard millions of votes across key battleground states. Budd has claimed that there were “legitimate concerns over voter fraud” even though there’s no evidence of it, and said in his announcement video Wednesday that “elections should be fair and secure.”

In response to Budd’s announcement, Walker attacked McCrory, who is currently viewed as the front-runner in the GOP primary. The former governor is the only Republican to have won a statewide race, but Walker noted that McCrory also lost two other gubernatorial campaigns.

“We must stay grounded in finally giving our state conservative leadership in the Senate and not gambling on a career politician who has lost more statewide races than he’s won,” Walker said.

North Carolina Democrats have struggled statewide in recent federal elections. In 2020, Trump beat Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by a little over a point, while Senate Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham lost his race against Republican Sen. Thom Tillis by close to two points after a sex scandal.

But Democrats are hopeful that they can take Burr’s seat in their effort to protect their slim majority. Cheri Beasley, the first Black woman to be North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice, state Sen. Jeff Jackson, former state Sen. Erica Smith, virologist Richard Watkins and Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton are all running for the North Carolina Senate Democratic nomination.

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.