RALEIGH, N.C. — Richard Burr, the Republican congressman who turned around his race against Erskine Bowles with a flood of television advertising, on Tuesday won the race to succeed Democrat John Edwards in the
It was a second straight Senate defeat for Bowles, former chief of staff in the Clinton White House, who lost to Elizabeth Dole in 2002.
"I said very early on in this campaign, 'I don't do things like most statewide campaigns,' and I've proved that that works," Burr said in a victory speech at Wake Forest University, where he attended college.
Burr thanked Dole, who chaired his campaign, and vowed to work with her to strengthen the state's economy and continue the strong military presence in the state.
Bowles conceded defeat in the bitterly waged campaign, speaking to supporters in Raleigh.
"Unfortunately, I'm getting pretty good at this," he said.
"A lot of tough things were said in this campaign,'' Bowles said, referring to the back-and-forth attack ads that filled the state's airwaves for the last weeks of the campaign. "I end this campaign not with rancor, but with respect ... respect for our senator-elect, Richard Burr. ...
"He has been given a wonderful opportunity by the people of this state. I know he will use his enormous talents to make our state a better place for all the people of North Carolina."
Surveys of voters as they left the polls showed Burr and Bowles each held about nine of 10 voters from his own party and split independents down the middle.
Burr trailed in the race for most of the summer, but began a blitz of television advertising in September. Some ads touted Burr's talents; others savaged Bowles, almost invariably showing him in pictures with the unpopular former President Clinton.
As winner of one of the nation's fiercest - and most expensive races - Burr replaces Edwards, who passed up a re-election run to seek his party's presidential nomination, and ended up the vice-presidential nominee.
The win in North Carolina, combined with other victories in southern seats once held by Democrats, ensured Republicans would retain control of the Senate for the next two years. Because the Burr-Bowles race was seen as crucial to the balance of power, it attracted major outside interest, with national parties and third-party interest groups pouring millions into advertising and other efforts to sway North Carolina voters.
Burr said his campaign was helped by congressional passage last month of a buyout of the federal tobacco price support system, which he helped negotiate.
"That changed the momentum of the race,'' he said.