[mc_name name=’Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001135′ ] has alienated many GOP activists with a voting record that has been rapidly trending left, leading to his earning the nickname ”Tricky Dick” on conservative political blogs. It has also seen over the past two years three Republican Congressional District organizations passing resolutions to censure Burr for his Senate votes, two by unanimous votes of their district Republican executive committees and one by overwhelming vote of its district Republican convention.
This stampede to the left by Burr has led conservatives to seek a primary opponent to him for 2016. Earlier a group of activists set up a website to try to draft Congressman [mc_name name=’Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001187′ ] to challenge Burr and got great response, but the feeling of many is that Meadows prefers to stay in the House to help bring down Speaker Boehner.
It is not just North Carolina GOP activists who have been seeking a primary opponent to Burr. The Senate Conservatives Fund earlier emailed its NC members indicating that Burr was one of its primary targets in 2016. Burr was one of the Shameful Seven Republican US Senators who financed the very nastiest of the dirty tricks against conservative US Senate frontrunner Chris McDaniel in the Mississippi Senate runoff last year.
Today, Burr got a credible conservative primary opponent as retired North Carolina Superior Court Judge Paul Wright announced his candidacy for US Senate against Burr. Wright, who was GOP nominee for US Congress against [mc_name name=’Rep. David Price (D-NC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000523′ ] in the heavily Democrat 4th District in 2014, has shown the ability to beat an entrenched incumbent before, as that is how he won his seat on the Superior Court bench, taking on and beating an entrenched incumbent. Wright served as a state prosecutor before serving 22 years on the state District Court and then Superior Court bench.
Wright’s biggest challenge will be raising the funds needed to beat Burr. The issues are there, and many GOP activists are ready to see Burr gone, but Wright will need to build a warchest to reach the great mass of voters with his message.
There are rumblings of other potential candidates, and Burr may get a challenger with more horsepower than Judge Wright. If that happens, it will be critical for conservatives to come together and unite behind one candidate since North Carolina only has a 40% threshold for avoiding a runoff, and by dividing the conservative vote, the establishment moderates have shown they can use a division among conservatives to nominate a moderate with less than a majority as they did with [mc_name name=’Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’T000476′ ] in 2014.