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Burr beats Bowles for Edwards' seat

Dem concedes as GOP picks up Senate seat in North Carolina

Richard Burr, above, and Erskine Bowles were neck and neck heading into the final week.
Senate: NC Updated: 5:32 p.m. ET
Burr 52%
Bowles 47%
100% precincts reporting
Election Results Main Page

(CNN) -- Former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles conceded defeat to Republican Rep. Richard Burr in the race for John Edwards' North Carolina Senate seat.

When John Edwards decided to give up his Senate seat to run for vice president, it set the stage for a hard-fought race between Bowles and Burr.

Despite the high stakes, the race remained generally civil throughout. Bowles and Burr were neck and neck heading into the final week, despite North Carolina's strong Republican voting history.

Since 1980, the only time the state did not vote Republican in a presidential election was when Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush each received 43 percent in 1992.

Bowles, 59, who served as President Clinton's chief of staff during his second term, made his second run for the Senate this year. He lost in 2002 to Elizabeth Dole in the election to replace longtime Republican Sen. Jesse Helms.

During this year's race, Bowles positioned himself as a centrist. As his opponent tried to link him to Clinton and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, Bowles attempted to strike a level of independence from the national Democratic Party.

"I don't think I need to be in lockstep with anybody other than the people of North Carolina," Bowles said during the campaign.

In 1993, Bowles headed the Small Business Administration and was named deputy chief of staff in the Clinton administration the next year. In that role, he helped coordinate the federal response to the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. As chief of staff, Bowles helped negotiate the 1997 budget, the first balanced budget in 30 years.

He left Washington in 1998 and became chairman of North Carolina's Rural Prosperity Task Force, which pushed to bring high-speed Internet access to the state. During this year's campaign, Bowles called for increased benefits for veterans, as well as for members of the National Guard and Reserves, and has also urged healthcare reform.

Burr, 48, a five-time representative in the House, easily beat two other Republicans in the July 20 primary. He raised the most money among the candidates and named Dole his campaign chairwoman.

The vice chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Burr is also a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In the 108th Congress, he sponsored legislation providing benefits to emergency responders who are injured by the smallpox vaccine, as well legislation to limit unsolicited e-mail, or spam.

Burr, who refers to himself as a conservative, has supported the balanced budget amendment, spending limits, tax cuts and the abolishment of federal income taxes except in times of war. He supports a ban on same-sex marriage, laws restricting abortion except in cases involving rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother, and legislation that would make English the country's official language.

During the campaign, both candidates supported a buyout program for tobacco growers hurt by shrinking quotas. And Bowles said he would back a measure that would link the buyout to a provision that would give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over tobacco, which the Bush administration opposes.

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