Raleigh, N.C. — Democrats picked former state Rep. Deborah Ross to face off against Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in this fall's Senate election.
Ross topped the four-way Democratic primary, besting Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey, Durham businessman Kevin Griffin and Ernest Reeves of Greenville for the nomination.
March 2016 primary results Ross will take on Burr, a former U.S. House member who is running for a third term as senator, and she lost little time targeting the incumbent.
“After 20 years in Washington, Richard Burr has lost sight of our values," Ross said in prepared remarks. "Now, it’s time for a change. As your Senator, I will work every day to make sure – no matter who you are, or where you’re from – if you work hard and play by the rules, then you’ll have the security and the opportunity to find a job that pays a fair wage, go to college, afford housing, and save for retirement."
Burr easily led the Republican primary vote, outdistancing by a wide margin his closest rival, Dr. Greg Branon, a Cary obstetrician who also challenged U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis in 2014.
He opted to remain in Washington, D.C. this week rather than return to the state for primary celebrations.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee welcomed Ross to the campaign by lambasting her record as a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Deborah Ross was no one’s first choice for this job," committee spokeswoman Alleigh Marré said. "In the coming months her radical record will be exposed for the danger it is to North Carolina families."
Brannon addressed his supporters in Cary, still taking aim at Burr's legislative record and warning supporters to be critical of those who ask for help in the General Election campaign.
"I'm begging you not to be used by any campaign, by any special interest, by any lobbyist," he said.
In addition to Ross and Burr, Libertarian Sean Haugh will also be on the U.S. Senate ballot in the fall.
The fall campaign sets up as a contest between Burr, a stalwart conservative who has already run television ads playing up his national security credentials, against Ross, who was known as an advocate for liberal viewpoints during her time in the legislature. She has focused on economic issues during the primary campaign.