- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

CARY, N.C. (AP) - Second-time U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon told conservative allies Tuesday night that Sen. Richard Burr has enabled President Barack Obama’s initiatives on Capitol Hill and that he would stand up for constitutional principles on the Senate floor if he unseated the Republican incumbent.

Holding his first public town hall meeting since getting into the 2016 race, Brannon said he’s running again because things have gotten worse in Washington since he ran in 2014. He blames it in part on people he considers part of the Republican establishment like Burr, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“Sen. Burr - our representative - he’s allowed the progressive agenda to occur, increasing the size and scope of government, increasing the debt,” Brannon told about 100 people at a church in Cary, where he lives. Burr, he added “actually was a helper into Obama’s dream of fundamentally transforming America. That’s unacceptable.”

Brannon finished second in the 2014 Senate GOP primary to Thom Tillis, who ultimately defeated Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. Brannon and Burr are among four Republicans in this year’s March 15 primary. Burr has been elevated to chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee since the GOP took the majority after the 2014 elections.

Brannon, 55, a board certified obstetrician/gynecologist, ran actively for more than a year leading up to the May 2014 Republican primary. Considered a favorite of the tea party movement who aligned himself with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Brannon got 27 percent of the vote in the primary.



While Brannon has some residual name recognition from that campaign, he entered the race on the final day of candidate filing last month and now has nine weeks to campaign. Brannon is hoping the popularity of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other outsiders in the Republican presidential campaign will benefit his bid.

“It’s time for a fighter. It’s time for a warrior,” Brannon said. “It’s time for somebody courageous to carry that liberty torch.”

Burr, from Winston-Salem, ran two successful statewide elections in 2004 and 2010. He had $4.8 million in his campaign coffers as of Sept. 30.

Burr was ranked the 16th most conservative U.S. senator by the American Conservative Union in 2014, the latest rankings available. Burr voted to repeal Obama’s health care law. The president vetoed that repeal bill last week.

Brannon’s political philosophy envisions a dramatically slimmed federal government. Based on his reading of the U.S. Constitution, Brannon said Tuesday there should be no federal income tax and agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education should end, leaving such duties to the states.

Burr campaign consultant Paul Shumaker said in an email “Brannon’s attacks are nothing more than an attempt to hide from his true agenda,” which he contends includes the dismantling of a standing army and increasing the nation’s security risks.

Paul Wright and Larry Holmquist are the other GOP primary candidates. Four Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination.

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