Under the Dome

Republican Greg Brannon challenges Richard Burr in second Senate bid

U.S. Senate Republican candidate Greg Brannon speaks with attendees following The Great Debate, a forum sponsored by the East Wake Republican Club at Hephzibah Baptist Church on Friday, April 11, 2014 in Wendell, N.C.
U.S. Senate Republican candidate Greg Brannon speaks with attendees following The Great Debate, a forum sponsored by the East Wake Republican Club at Hephzibah Baptist Church on Friday, April 11, 2014 in Wendell, N.C. jhknight@newsobserver.com

Cary obstetrician Greg Brannon surprised political observers Monday when he launched a campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard Burr with just hours to go in the campaign finance period.

The deadline to get on the 2016 ballot is noon Monday.

Brannon, a Republican aligned with the Tea Party movement, ran for U.S. Senate last year. He came in second to Thom Tillis with about 27 percent of the vote in the GOP primary.

Until Brannon jumped in, the field of candidates for the Senate race had been set for months: Two little-known GOP candidates, Larry Holmquist and Paul Wright, were running against Burr in the primary, while three Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination to challenge him in November.

“We’re facing the greatest threat to liberty in our lifetime,” Brannon tweeted shortly after he filed at the State Board of Elections in Raleigh. “Now is not the time for go-along-to-get-along Republicans.”

While Brannon’s candidacy wasn’t announced publicly before Monday, he’s been criticizing Burr on his Facebook page.

“Senator Richard Burr has repeatedly refused to take on President Obama and the Democrats in Washington, but boy does he love to undercut and smear constitutional conservative fighters like Senator Ted Cruz at every opportunity,” he wrote last week.

Brannon fueled speculation about a possible run in October when he posted a cryptic video filmed in front of the governor’s mansion. Instead, the video was a teaser for the launch of Organize for Liberty, a 501(c)4 nonprofit “dedicated to encouraging and protecting constitutionally-limited government, individual sovereignty, and the inalienable rights of the individual.”

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