RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said Wednesday that he is running his last election campaign, and when he leaves elected office depends on whether he wins or loses this year.
Burr, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, announced his plans during the sole day he planned to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, a campaign spokesman confirmed. North Carolina's senior senator plans to quit campaigning with this year's re-election bid, meaning he'll retire from politics next year if he loses in November or in 2022 if he wins another six-year term.
"It's an honor to serve the people of North Carolina and I'm dedicated to fighting for families and veterans in our great state every day. My number one priority is my role as Senate Intelligence Chairman and working to keep Americans safe," Burr, 60, said in a statement provided by his campaign.
Burr said heading into November's election he looks forward to a "spirited campaign" against Democrat Deborah Ross, a former state representative and former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. Ross campaign spokesman Cole Leiter said voters will send Burr into retirement sooner rather than later.
Burr has served in Congress since 1995, starting with 10 years in the U.S. House before winning his Senate seat in 2004.
RNC delegate and former state Supreme Court justice Robert Orr said he wasn't surprised by Burr's statement after hearing the senator had been thinking about when he'd step down.
"I think there was a question this go-around about whether he'd run" this year, Orr said during a phone interview from Cleveland.
But Burr's comments surprised another GOP stalwart.
"I frankly am surprised, maybe a little disappointed, about the announcement but I certainly appreciate his service and if he wants to retire in six years he's earned that right," said state Rep. David Lewis. The member of the national Republican committee was home in Dunn rather than attending the convention on Wednesday.
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