And on Tuesday, voters chose to send Burr, a Republican congressman from Winston-Salem, to the Senate for the next six years.
Burr rallied from a double-digit deficit in the polls in the summer to a victory over Democrat Bowles, a Democratic banker from Charlotte.
For Bowles, it was the second straight election in which the former White House Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration failed to capture a Senate seat. In 2002, Bowles lost to Elizabeth Dole.
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Burr will replace North Carolina's senior senator, Democrat John Edwards, who passed up a re-election run to seek his party's presidential nomination, and ended up the vice-presidential nominee.
With Republicans holding a slim 51-48 majority in the Senate (one independent often votes with Democrats), the race was seen as crucial to the balance of power and attracted major outside interest. The national parties and third-party interest groups poured millions into advertising and other efforts to sway North Carolina voters.