WINSTON-SALEM — Republican Sen. Richard Burr filed for re-election Monday, saying he thinks his record of supporting small government and low taxes is in tune with Tar Heel voters.
Burr said Congress has been at odds with public opinion on such issues as health care, tax policy, spending and debt.
"I continue to be disgusted with the amount of spending that Congress continues to undertake and the size of the debt," Burr said at a news conference at his campaign headquarters in Winston-Salem.
He said his special focus will be trying to restart the economy. He added that he is "passionate" about finding a market-based solution to the health care problem, noting that he has been a vocal critic of Democratic plans now being considered by Congress.
Burr, 54, a former five-term congressman and sales rep, is seeking to hold on to one of the slipperiest seats in the U.S. Senate. The last time the seat was successfully defended was by Democratic Sen. Sam J. Ervin Jr. in 1968.
Four Democrats have lined up to challenge Burr in November, and two little-known Republicans are seeking to unseat him in the primary May 4.
Although there appears to be strong anti-incumbent sentiment this year, Burr said he thinks his conservative record will wear well with voters. As he has in the past, he described the Tea Party movement as "the cavalry."
Burr starts the race with numerous polls showing him with an approval ratings under 50 percent, often a sign of trouble for an incumbent. That has prompted the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to portray him as the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the nation.
Burr said he expects to raise at least $15 million for his campaign.
His two opponents in the primary argue that Burr has not been conservative enough or visible enough.
Brad Jones, 65, an electronics businessman from Hendersonville, said Burr "rubber stamped" all the spending policies of former President George W. Bush, including the bank bailout in 2008.
"I want to give people an alternative," Jones said. "I'm more of a Jesse Helms conservative. Now that there is a Democrat in the White House, [Burr] is acting more conservative."
Eddie Burks, 48, an Asheboro City Councilman, calls Burr "unresponsive and inaccessible."
"Have you seen any leadership from Sen. Burr?" Burks asked in an interview. "I haven't. Most people can't tell me anything they like about the senator."
Burr did not seem overly concerned about his primary opponents.
"The fact is it is impossible for any candidate to get to the right of me from an ideological standpoint of my record," Burr said. "That is where anybody would have to attempt to make any progress in a Republican primary.
"I am not going to shift what I am or who I am based on a primary or a general election."
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