- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 15, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The list of people seeking to unseat GOP U.S. Sen. Richard Burr lengthened Tuesday as Democrat Chris Rey officially became a candidate, promoting his service as a small-town mayor, National Guard officer and operator of a health care nonprofit.

Rey, the mayor of the Cumberland County town of Spring Lake who also has a law degree, is one of three Democrats who have filed to try to replace Burr in next year’s election. Two fellow Republicans also have announced their candidacies.

The filing deadline for the March 15 primary is next Monday. With little fanfare, Burr filed his paperwork earlier this month to seek a third six-year term at the State Board of Elections.

Burr first went to Congress by winning a Winston-Salem area House seat in 1994 and moved over to the Senate 10 years later. This year he became chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he wields influence over homeland security and cybersecurity issues.

Rey said two decades on Capitol Hill is probably enough for Burr.

“Maybe it’s time for some new energy,” he said. “Maybe it’s time for some new experience, and I think that that’s what I’m going to bring.”

Rey was joined by his wife 2-year-old daughter as he filed at the state board.

Discussing his experience with reporters afterward, he said he’s been involved in cybersecurity issues as a former Fort Bragg soldier and current member of the Virginia National Guard.

He noted that the Cumberland County nonprofit he leads helps coordinate health care for poor, uninsured residents. And he said his mayoral duties give him firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing constituents, such as student loan debt.

Other Democratic candidates who have already filed are former state Rep. Deborah Ross of Raleigh and Kevin Griffin, an employment services and recruiting company CEO from Durham. Looking to the Democratic primary, Rey said, “I bring the strongest record and I bring the strongest resume to the table.”

The Republicans who will face Burr in a primary are former Judge Paul Wright of Wayne County and Larry Holmquist of Greensboro.

Other candidates filing Tuesday for statewide office included Democrat Holly Jones of Buncombe County for lieutenant governor and Republican Jim O’Neill, the current Forsyth County district attorney, for attorney general.

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