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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Richard Burr Edges Out His Democrat U.S. Senate Challengers

Richard Burr Has Edge In Seeking Re-Election

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr would seem to be in an enviable position.

Virtually nobody knows his primary challengers. He leads each of his main Democratic opponents by double digits in some polls. And he's got $5.3 million in the bank, far more than any rival.

But, says Burr, "I worry about every election."

Other than the late Republican Jesse Helms, no senator from North Carolina has been re-elected in the last four decades.

Burr is one of only two GOP senators running in a state carried by Democrat Barack Obama. And for much of his term, he's kept a relatively low profile.

A new Elon University Poll Friday showed that while 37 percent of North Carolinians approve of his job performance, 35 percent have no opinion about it. Other polls have shown his approval at under 50 percent.

"It's a direct reflection of the influx of 1 million new voters into North Carolina since the last time I ran," Burr said Friday.

He's trying to change that. His first TV ad, for example, features testimonials from North Carolinians he has helped.

Records show that in the Senate, Burr has voted with the majority of his party 93 percent of the time. A National Journal analysis found him the ninth most conservative member.

He was an outspoken critic of Democratic health care legislation. He criticizes rising federal spending and last month voted against an extension of unemployment benefits, saying it didn't include a way to pay for it.

Democrats call Burr an obstructionist. He says Republican proposals are ignored by the Democratic majority.

Burr says he doesn't worry about being swept up in an anti-incumbent wave. What he does worry about is being "demonized" with millions of dollars by the Democratic Party, labor unions or other groups.

"I'm always looking at how much outside money finds its way into North Carolina," he says. "The White House has to portray, from an electoral standpoint, that North Carolina is in play" in 2012.

The Washington-based Cook Political Report ranks the seat as likely to remain in GOP hands.

"Burr's going to have to work at this, he can't take anything for granted," says Cook analyst Jennifer Duffy. "He just starts the race with a whole lot of advantages."

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Sources: McClatchy Newspapers, WCNC, Youtube, Google Maps

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