First-termer Richard Burr (R-NC) will be up for re-election in 2010, and has been making regular appearances on lists of vulnerable incumbents. He moved up from the House to the Senate when John Edwards resigned to run for veep, but is not thought to be well-known on a statewide basis. A prominent in-state Democrat, Attorney General Roy Cooper, currently leads Burr in hypothetical face-offs. Democrats will certainly target Burr, especially after Kay Hagan (D-NC) toppled Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in 2008.
Hagan easily knocked off Dole, who was in trouble before she seemingly sealed her fate with one of the ugliest last-minute campaign ads we can ever recall seeing personally, which backfired, judging by results at the voting booth.
Hagan outpolled ticket head Barack Obama, who won the state so narrowly results weren’t certified until several days after the election. Both benefitted from high African-American turnout. If that turnout is not repeated, Burr may be able to hang onto the seat.
RBR/TVBR observation: The bottom line once again is that battleground status is almost a certainty, which means national dollars will flow into the state on top of whatever the candidates are able to raise on their own. The combination of a Republican tradition and recent Democratic success are going to be more than enough to inspire both parties to invest heavily in the Tarheel State.