Under the Dome

As Hagan decides against challenge to Burr in 2016, Democrats look elsewhere

Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan won’t challenge Sen. Richard Burr in 2016, two sources told The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer.

Hagan has been making calls to tell supporters and former staffers that she won’t be running, according to the sources, who spoke on condition that their names not be used because Hagan had not officially announced her intentions.

A Washington-based publication, Roll Call, first reported the news.

Former House Speaker Thom Tillis beat Hagan last year. Even so, she had not definitively said she would not seek to challenge Burr.

Strategists now are apparently continuing their search for a Burr challenger.

One tells Dome that former House Speaker and current state Sen. Dan Blue is being recruited. A different strategist says State Treasurer Janet Cowell is being sought, though Cowell has said she is running for re-election.

Cowell quickly issued a statement Wednesday knocking down any talk of a possible run.

“I am flattered to be mentioned as a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate,” Cowell said. “However, I am focused on my job and committed to running for re-election as Treasurer in North Carolina.”

Blue said in a brief interview: “I haven’t given it any serious thought.”

“It becomes all consuming,” he said.”There are things other than running for office that are important.”

Blue, who is the Senate Democratic leader, said he is focused on electing more Democrats to the Senate.

Democrats are also interested in Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, University of North Carolina President Tom Ross, state Sen. Josh Stein and even former Rep. Heath Shuler, who left office in 2012 after three terms.