Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2004, term expires 2016, 2nd term.

Born: November 30, 1955, Charlottesville, VA

Home: Winston-Salem, NC

Education: Wake Forest U., B.A. 1978

Professional Career: Natl. sales mgr., Carswell Distributing, 1978–94.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Methodist

Family: Married (Brooke Fauth) , 2 children

Republican Richard Burr, North Carolina’s senior senator, was first elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving 10 years in the House. A hard-working and conscientious conservative, Burr has not built the national profile of other senators and has been stymied in his attempts to enter the Senate GOP leadership ranks. But his ascension to the chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2015 offered him a chance to prominently shape debates over surveillance and terrorism.

A distant relative of Vice President Aaron Burr, he grew up a minister’s son in Winston-Salem, was a star football player at Reynolds High School and Wake Forest University, and then worked in sales for national wholesaler Carswell Distributing. In 1992, Burr ran against Rep. Steve Neal, a Democrat first elected in 1974. Although outspent 3-to-1, he lost by a relatively narrow 53%-46%. Neal retired in 1994 and Burr ran again, this time winning a solid 57% of the vote. He did not have a serious challenger in the next four House elections.

In the House, Burr had a mostly conservative voting record. On the Energy and Commerce Committee, his early cause was streamlining the Food and Drug Administration’s drug and medical device approval process, which he argued would speed lifesaving products to the market. For over two years, he worked with the agency, doctors, patients, consumer groups, and the pharmaceutical industry to come up with a consensus. With broad bipartisan support, his FDA Modernization Act became law in 1997. He also helped to set up the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health. After the September 11 attacks, he sponsored laws to improve defenses against bioterrorism. He sought a crackdown on illegal textile imports but backed President George W. Bush’s call for trade promotion authority after securing promises that the local textile industry would have a seat at the table. He called it a difficult vote but said it could help make U.S. textiles more competitive internationally.

In 2004, a major issue for him was a plan to end the tobacco quota system in place since 1938 with a government buyout of quota holders. The entire North Carolina delegation favored it; tobacco quotas had been cut back in recent years and seemed likely to be again. At issue was whether the buyout should be coupled with FDA regulation of tobacco. The Senate passed a corporate tax bill with both the buyout and FDA regulation. In the House, Burr favored the buyout without FDA regulation, arguing that the toxicity of cigarettes should be regulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that package labeling should fall under the Federal Trade Commission. Burr was appointed to the conference committee, where he held out for the buyout without FDA regulation; the Senate yielded, and the bill was enacted to reflect his preferences.

Burr had promised to serve only five terms in the House and by the early 2000s, he wanted to run for the Senate. In 2002, when GOP Sen. Jesse Helms retired, he deferred to fellow Republican Elizabeth Dole, who had the backing of the Bush White House. Two years later, Democratic Sen. John Edwards was running for president, and Burr had the shot he was waiting for. He had $2 million in his campaign treasury and, this time, had the support of White House political strategist Karl Rove.

He had serious opposition from Erskine Bowles, the White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who had had lost the 2002 Senate race 54%-45% to Dole. Bowles had deep roots in North Carolina. His father Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1972, and his wife, Crandall Close, headed Springs Industries, a large textile firm started by her family. As Clinton’s top aide, Bowles negotiated the 1997 legislation that helped produce a balanced federal budget for the first time in years. And he had earned the respect of Republican leaders even as they seethed with mistrust of Clinton.

Bowles started running ads in May and led in polls until September. Both candidates spent about $13 million. Burr held back on ads until then and, having conserved resources, had a money advantage in the last two months. Bowles ran on a 10-point economic program and touted his ability to work with both parties while depicting Burr as the king of the special interests, especially the pharmaceutical and tobacco companies. Republicans made much of Burr’s role in blocking FDA regulation of tobacco. For his part, Burr linked Bowles to Clinton’s policies on tax increases, welfare for immigrants, and trade with China.

On Election Day, Bush carried North Carolina 56%-44% in his reelection bid, and Burr beat Bowles 52%-47%. Bowles won big majorities in rural black-majority counties and in the counties with Durham and Chapel Hill. Burr carried almost every rural county in the Piedmont and the mountains. Later, when he co-chaired President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission, Bowles said of Burr: “I think by the grace of God we both ended up in the exact right jobs for North Carolina. ... I can tell you from firsthand experience nobody works harder or is smarter than this guy in Washington.”

In the Senate, Burr has shown little interest in self-promotion. He told The Charlotte Observer in 2009: “I tend to be more of a policy guy than I am a guy who shows up on the 24-hour talk shows or a guy who goes to the floor and speaks.” He has leaned conservative on cultural issues and initially toward the center on foreign policy, although he has moved further to the right in that area since Democrat Barack Obama became president.

In taking the Intelligence chairmanship, Burr was expected to maintain better relations with the Obama administration's spy agency chiefs than the previous Democratic chairman, California's Dianne Feinstein. In contrast to Feinstein and other Democrats, who said they didn't know about the CIA's abuse of terrorist detainees, he told McClatchy Newspapers: We’re going to focus on real-time oversight, so nobody can ever say again that they forgot or they weren’t briefed or they didn’t know,” Burr said.

 

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/12/12/5380982/richard-burr-incoming-head-of.html#.VNTbpMaNXJw#storylink=chas resisted reining in those agencies' power in the face of domestic snooping revelations, and was likely to turn back attempts at greater openness when sections of the USA Patriot Act came up for reauthorization. “I personally don’t believe that anything that goes on in the Intelligence Committee should ever be discussed publicly,” he told reporters in March 2014. “If I had my way, with the exception of nominees, there would never be a public intelligence hearing.”

He occasionally has shown a willingness to take on far-right colleagues; he said in July 2013 that talk of shutting down the federal government over the Affordable Care Act was "the dumbest idea I've ever heard." A year later, he worked with Republicans Orrin Hatch of Utah and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma on a comprehensive alternative to the law. It retained many of the law's most popular elements but guaranteed coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions only if they maintained "continuous coverage." The measure drew widespread media attention but failed to gain any political traction.

In 2005, he won enactment of a bill to create the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop vaccines and other countermeasures to biological terrorism or a pandemic, and he cosponsored reauthorization of the bill in 2009 with the late Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. He was an original cosponsor of the food safety bill that passed in 2010. More recently, Burr was part of a bipartisan group of senators that struck a deal in 2013 to keep down student loan interest rates by tying those rates to the government's cost of borrowing. It passed the Senate on an 81-18 vote and was signed into law.

Burr also seems to have a soft spot for animals. He sponsored a bill to bar the National Institutes of Health from recalling chimpanzees from retirement at their haven in Keithville, La., for medical research. And in 2010, he cosponsored successful legislation that criminalized so-called animal crush videos, which depict small animals being tortured to death. He also has worked on ways to manage the wild horse population around the Outer Banks.

As the ranking minority member on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Burr in 2012 cosponsored a bipartisan bill that became law aimed at ensuring veterans receive dignified burials. He and other lawmakers introduced the bill after a World War II veteran was found buried in a cardboard box in Florida. Burr also cosponsored with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona a revision of the GI Bill of Rights that would allow veterans to transfer half their benefits to spouses or children after six years and all of them after 12 years. The Senate ultimately passed a bill that went even further, allowing veterans with three years of service to get tuition at the most expensive of their state’s public colleges. In December 2010, Burr surprised his conservative supporters when he voted to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay service personnel.

After a scandal erupted at the Veterans' Affairs Department in 2014 over mismanagement and overly long wait times for treating patients, Burr found himself at the center of an acrimonious spat. He wrote an open letter that the staff at various veterans groups “has ignored the constant VA problems expressed by their members and is more interested in their own livelihoods and Washington connections than they are to the needs of their own members.” His comments outraged those groups; an official at Disabled American Veterans said the senator “shows no interest in pursuing serious policy solutions, preferring instead to launch cheap political attacks on the integrity of leaders of veterans organizations that do not agree with him.”

One area where Burr takes a strong conservative line was immigration. In 2006, he voted against the Senate immigration overhaul bill because he said it would lead to “blanket amnesty” for illegal immigrants. During negotiations on the compromise bill the following year, Burr supported the “touchback” amendment that would have forced illegal immigrants to return to their home countries before applying for visas. When the amendment was voted down, he voted against allowing the compromise bill to advance. Unlike some conservatives, however, he said in January 2013 that he would keep an open mind about a comprehensive immigration reform proposal drafted by a bipartisan group of senators. But he ultimately voted against the Senate-passed measure, saying it didn't do enough to secure the border.

During the financial crisis in 2008, Burr voted with many Democrats for the $700 billion government rescue of the financial industry, but he later had reservations and opposed release of the second half of the money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He also attracted some unfavorable attention during the crisis when he said he had advised his wife to withdraw as much cash as possible out of ATMs.

Burr cast a controversial vote in early 2012. When a bill aimed at banning insider trading by members of Congress was brought up on the Senate floor, there was little doubt it would pass. The legislation gained momentum after Congress was shamed into acting after a 60 Minutes exposé on the practice. On a 96-3 vote, Burr was one of the three dissenters and received widespread criticism. The left-leaning blog Huffington Post reported that Burr stood to gain from his natural gas tax-credit bill because he had personal investments in the natural gas industry. Burr denied any attempt to profit from past legislation. Defending his actions on a local radio show, Burr said that insider trading bans were already on the books.

Burr has had an interest in moving up in the Senate leadership. In 2007, he lost a bid for Republican Conference chairman to Lamar Alexander of Tennessee on a 31-16 vote. But in January 2009, he was named chief deputy whip. In October 2011, Burr said he intended to run for Senate Republican whip, the No. 2 slot in the GOP leadership chain. However, in March 2012, Burr changed his mind and said he’d rather focus on legislation, clearing the way for Texas' John Cornyn to take the job.

When he came up for reelection in 2010, there was some speculation that Burr would encounter serious opposition, considering Obama’s victory in North Carolina in 2008 and Dole’s defeat for reelection to the Senate. Moreover, polls showed Burr had a low profile in the state. But the strongest possible Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, widely respected for his work in the case of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, declined to run. Burr’s opponent became Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

But she came out of the primary contest with little money and spent $2.8 million altogether. Burr raised $11 million. Marshall hit him for supporting the Wall Street bailout and dubbed him “Bank Run” Burr for his ATM advice to his wife. None of this got much traction. Marshall also got no help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which was busy defending a dozen Democratic-held seats that year. Burr won 55%-43%, losing in Charlotte, Fayetteville, and all the black-majority counties, but carrying virtually everything else. A prolific fundraiser, Burr in 2012 was named in Washingtonian magazine’s anonymous survey of congressional staffers as one of the Senate’s biggest “party animals,” in recognition of his frequent money-raising events.

Rumors abounded in North Carolina in 2014 that Burr might retire in 2016 rather than face a challenge from a top-tier Democratic recruit such as Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor who became Secretary of Transportation. But Burr told National Journal the rumors weren't true, and that Foxx had assured him he wouldn't run. A Public Policy Polling survey in February 2015 showed that despite a low approval rating (34%), he had solid leads over would-be Democratic challengers.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3154

(202) 228-2981

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 217
Washington, DC 20510-3308

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3154

(202) 228-2981

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 217
Washington, DC 20510-3308

DISTRICT OFFICE

(336) 631-5125

(336) 725-4493

2000 West First Street Suite 508
Winston-Salem, NC 27104-4225

DISTRICT OFFICE

(336) 631-5125

(336) 725-4493

2000 West First Street Suite 508
Winston-Salem, NC 27104-4225

DISTRICT OFFICE

(910) 251-1058

(910) 251-7975

201 North Front Street Suite 809
Wilmington, NC 28401-5089

DISTRICT OFFICE

(910) 251-1058

(910) 251-7975

201 North Front Street Suite 809
Wilmington, NC 28401-5089

DISTRICT OFFICE

(828) 350-2437

(828) 350-2439

Federal Building Suite 204
Asheville, NC 28801-2689

DISTRICT OFFICE

(828) 350-2437

(828) 350-2439

Federal Building Suite 204
Asheville, NC 28801-2689

DISTRICT OFFICE

(252) 977-9522

(252) 977-7902

100 Coast Line Street Suite 210
Rocky Mount, NC 27804-5849

DISTRICT OFFICE

(252) 977-9522

(252) 977-7902

100 Coast Line Street Suite 210
Rocky Mount, NC 27804-5849

DISTRICT OFFICE

(704) 833-0854

(704) 833-1467

City Hall Suite 222
Gastonia, NC 28052-4126

DISTRICT OFFICE

(704) 833-0854

(704) 833-1467

City Hall Suite 222
Gastonia, NC 28052-4126

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 5928
Winston-Salem, NC 27113-5928

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 5928
Winston-Salem, NC 27113-5928

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Acquisitions

Natasha Hickman
Legislative Director

Robert Sneeden
Legislative Correspondent

Aerospace

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Robert Sneeden
Legislative Correspondent

Agriculture

Lee Bobbitt
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Natasha Hickman
Legislative Director

Arts

Chris Toppings
Deputy Legislative Director

Banking

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Budget

Natasha Hickman
Legislative Director

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Commerce

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Communication

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Economics

Natasha Hickman
Legislative Director

Steven Green
Western Regional Director

Garth Regan
Director of Field Operations; Deputy Director of Economic Development

Education

Chris Toppings
Deputy Legislative Director

Energy

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Robert Sneeden
Legislative Correspondent

Environment

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Robert Sneeden
Legislative Correspondent

Family

Chris Toppings
Deputy Legislative Director

Finance

Chris Toppings
Deputy Legislative Director

Foreign

Cynthia Ramos
Legislative Aide

Govt Ops

Steve Perrotta
Retirement Policy Director

Benjamin Khouri
Legislative Correspondent

Sarah Sutton
Mailroom Manager; Intern Coordinator

Grants

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Gun Issues

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Health

Colin Rom
Legislative Correspondent

colin_rom@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Homeland Security

Chad Sydnor
Military Legislative Assistant

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Housing

Chris Toppings
Deputy Legislative Director

Immigration

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Internet

Matt Dombrowski
Correspondence Director; Systems Administrator

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Labor

Steve Perrotta
Retirement Policy Director

Colin Rom
Legislative Correspondent

colin_rom@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Medicare

Colin Rom
Legislative Correspondent

colin_rom@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Military

Chad Sydnor
Military Legislative Assistant

Todd Putnam
Military Fellow

Cynthia Ramos
Legislative Aide

Lori Livingston
Director of Veterans' and Military Affairs

Minorities

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Native Americans

Lee Bobbitt
Legislative Assistant

Privacy

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Public Works

Lee Bobbitt
Legislative Assistant

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Robert Sneeden
Legislative Correspondent

Recreation

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Rules

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Science

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Matt Dombrowski
Correspondence Director; Systems Administrator

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Robert Sneeden
Legislative Correspondent

Seniors

Steve Perrotta
Retirement Policy Director

Colin Rom
Legislative Correspondent

colin_rom@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Social Security

Steve Perrotta
Retirement Policy Director

Tax

Natasha Hickman
Legislative Director

Technology

Matt Dombrowski
Correspondence Director; Systems Administrator

Telecommunications

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Becca Watkins
Communications Director

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Trade

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Transportation

John McDonald
Legislative Assistant

Wills Denton
Legislative Correspondent

Robert Sneeden
Legislative Correspondent

Veterans

Chad Sydnor
Military Legislative Assistant

Todd Putnam
Military Fellow

Cynthia Ramos
Legislative Aide

Lori Livingston
Director of Veterans' and Military Affairs

Welfare

Lee Bobbitt
Legislative Assistant

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Women

Ann Hawks
Legislative Counsel

ann_hawks@burr.senate.gov
(202) 224-3154

Election Results

2010 GENERAL
Richard Burr
Votes: 1,458,046
Percent: 54.81%
Elaine Marshall
Votes: 1,145,074
Percent: 43.05%
2010 PRIMARY
Richard Burr
Votes: 297,993
Percent: 80.11%
Brad Jones
Votes: 37,616
Percent: 10.11%
Eddie Burks
Votes: 22,111
Percent: 5.94%
2004 GENERAL
Richard Burr
Votes: 1,791,450
Percent: 52.0%
Erskine Bowles
Votes: 1,632,527
Percent: 47.0%
2004 PRIMARY
Richard Burr
Votes: 302,319
Percent: 88.0%
John Hendrix
Votes: 25,971
Percent: 8.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2004 (52%), House: 2002 (70%), 2000 (93%), 1998 (68%), 1996 (62%), 1994 (57%)

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