Who is Richard Burr?

Who is Richard Burr?
Source: Chris Keane, Reuters
With Burr soon to exit the Senate and Trump still holding sway with prominent members in the party, it looks like any Republicans who’d like to steer the party away from Trumpism are in for an uphill battle.

Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina earned the ire of former President Donald Trump and members of his own party when he was one of seven Republicans to vote to convict Trump in February during the former president’s second impeachment trial.

Though Trump was ultimately acquitted, Burr’s decision to vote against the man who remains the leading voice of the Republican Party was a seemingly risky move.

Two days after the conclusion of the trial, the North Carolina Republican Party central committee unanimously voted to censure Burr for his vote. The party explained the censure by noting that Burr had previously agreed that the impeachment trial was unconstitutional, so for him to then vote to convict Trump in the trial betrayed his initial stance and that of most Republicans in the Senate.

Burr has already stated he is not running for reelection in 2022, so his vote and the resulting backlash is unlikely to cost him much personally. However, the decision of seven Republicans to vote with all 50 Democratic senators to convict Trump is clearly a sign of intraparty division.

As Republican members have been wrestling to determine the future of the party, some Democrats have called the fracture in the GOP a “civil war.” With Burr soon to exit the Senate, though, and Trump still holding sway with prominent members in the party, it looks like any Republicans who’d like to steer the party away from Trumpism are in for an uphill battle.

The early years of Richard Burr

Richard Mauze Burr was born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1955 to Reverend David Burr and Martha Burr (née Gillum). Shortly after his birth, the Burr family moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he attended high school and then Wake Forest University. While at Wake Forest, he was a defensive back on the football team. He completed his BA in 1978.

Following college, Burr worked for Carswell Distributing Company, a lawn equipment wholesaler. He worked as a salesman for the company for nearly 17 years, eventually becoming a national sales manager.

Burr has been married to Brooke Burr, a real estate broker, since 1984. The couple have two sons together.

House Representative Richard Burr

In 1992, Burr made his first stab at entering politics when he unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives against incumbent Democrat Representative Stephen Neal. His stated motivation for running was his anger at rising taxes.

Two years later, when Neal decided not to run for the seat again, Burr launched another bid. This time, after running unopposed in the Republican primary, he won the election by handily defeating his Democrat opponent with just over 57% of the vote.

Burr would go on to complete five terms in the House, serving from 1995 to 2005. During his time in the House, he sponsored multiple bills that were enacted in one form or another, including the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, which updated FDA regulations for the changing technology of the 21st century.

In 2000, Burr sponsored a bill to establish the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, a division of the National Institutes of Health that is focused on creating biomedical technologies. Signing the bill into law was one of the last legislative actions President Bill Clinton took before he left office.

Senator Richard Burr

In 2004, Democratic Senator John Edwards decided to step down in order to run for president. Edwards’ bid for the presidency did not succeed, but in his absence, Burr ran for Edwards’ former Senate seat and defeated his Democratic opponent, Erskine Bowles, by nearly five percentage points.

Burr won reelection to the Senate in both 2010 and 2016, but said that 2016 would be his last election, citing his age and his desire to return to the private sector before retirement. Burr will be 67 when he leaves office in January 2023.

In his time in the Senate, Burr has been appointed to multiple committees, including serving at one time as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Burr was the chairman of the committee when it determined in a five-volume report that Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump’s election campaign.

Before the report’s final volume could be released, though, Burr was accused of using insider information to profit off of the COVID-19 pandemic. Burr, along with former Senator Kelly Loeffler, sold off stocks in February 2020 shortly after learning about the severity of the coming pandemic. Burr stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee amid the controversy.

Burr’s voting record while in the Senate puts him among the more centrist members of his party, though he has a 0% rating from both the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. Additionally, despite their recent conflict, Burr voted with Trump’s agenda 89.3% of the time and voted to acquit the former president in his first impeachment trial.

With Burr soon vacating his Senate seat, both parties will undoubtedly spend vast sums of money to try to capture it in 2022 and secure control of the chamber.

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