Local Politics

Burr sweeps to re-election

Posted November 2, 2010 8:31 p.m. EDT
Updated November 3, 2010 9:45 a.m. EDT

— U.S. Sen. Richard Burr swept to an easy victory Tuesday, following in the footsteps of the late Jesse Helms as the only Republicans to be re-elected to the Senate from North Carolina.

With all precincts statewide reporting. Burr had 55 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall's 43 percent, according to unofficial results. Libertarian Mike Beitler had 2 percent of the vote.

"The campaign is now ended, but important work continues," Burr told cheering supporters in Winston-Salem. "I'm ready to lead to ensure that the next generation has every opportunity possible to be successful."

He joked that he had broken "the curse" of the Senate seat, which had seen a new senator in the last seven elections.

Burr bucked the nationwide anti-incumbent mood among voters, stressing that he would be part of a Republican-led effort to lead the U.S. out of its economic doldrums. His conservative voting record, especially on hot-button issues like health care reform and the stimulus package, bolstered his campaign in North Carolina, which two years ago backed Democratic President Barack Obama.

Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said the dynamics of the election are far different than in 2008, when he lost the gubernatorial race to Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue.

"People want a different kind of change after two years of 'Obamacare,' after two years of a failed stimulus," McCrory said. "A strong message is being sent both to Washington and Raleigh."

Marshall, who has served as North Carolina Secretary of State since 1997, was trying to become the state's second female U.S. senator, following Sen. Kay Hagan's 2008 election.

"I got into this race because of the serious challenges facing this country, and those challenges remain," Marshall told supporters in Raleigh as she conceded defeat. "I urge Washington to put politics aside for a while to get to work for the people of the country."

She fought an uphill election since defeating former state Sen. Cal Cunningham in a Democratic runoff in June. Polls consistently showed her trailing Burr by double-digits among voters.

Marshall tried to tap her statewide campaign network, crisscrossing North Carolina to meet voters and build support, but growing hostility among voters toward the national Democratic Party made it difficult for her to chip into Burr's lead.

"We may have come up short tonight, but our work is not done," she said in thanking her supporters and campaign workers.