North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr vanquished Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall on Tuesday, retaining his seat in Congress with a renewed promise to rein in government spending and debt.
With 20 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Burr held 55 percent of the vote compared with 43 percent for Marshall. Libertarian candidate Michael Beitler had 2 percent.
Burr, who has served one term in the Senate after a decade in the House, had portrayed himself as an agent of change after two years of Democratic control of federal government. His message particularly focused on fiscal discipline, acknowledging past Republican mistakes of intense government spending but blaming Democrats for escalating the excess with President Barack Obama in charge.
"The result of this election shows that North Carolinians expect Congress to find reasonable and rational solutions to build a better future," Burr said after The Associated Press declared him the winner. "I am ready to lead in the effort to make sure the next generation has every opportunity possible to be successful."
Marshall, a veteran politician in Raleigh, had cast herself as an outsider in the race. She blamed Burr for contributing to problems with Washington politics and questioned his ties to interest groups. Marshall vowed to be a champion for average North Carolina residents, touting her work fighting Wall Street firms during her tenure as secretary of state.
Jacque Lewis, of Raleigh, said she is concerned that Burr is too cozy with his party, that Republicans are blocking financial regulation and that the GOP might privatize even part of Social Security. But she said her main worry was government spending -- such as Obama's health care overhaul -- leading her to vote for Republicans like Burr.
"Save money," said Lewis, 71. "Save money in some way. Save money in any way."
Laurie Fillion, 56, of Raleigh, said she voted a straight Democratic ticket in hopes the party could keep control of the House and Senate.
Fillion and her husband are living on her disability pay and his work as a custodian -- totaling $29,000 a year. They begin to run out of food around the end of the third week each month, at which point they start living on hot dogs, spaghetti and ketchup.
"It's scary if the Republicans take Congress," Fillion said. "I know the middle and the low class will be forgotten about."
Unlike two years ago, when Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan emerged from obscurity in North Carolina to oust widely known Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the Democratic establishment in Washington did little to aid Marshall, instead investing in other races around the country where incumbents were at risk of losing their seats. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent millions on Hagan, but they have aired no ads for Marshall and supported her opponent in the party's primary.
Burr, meanwhile, carried a wide fundraising advantage throughout the race, having brought in more than $8 million for his re-election bid compared to just over $2 million for Marshall.