Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) will win re-election in one of the nation’s most closely-watched Senate races, according to projections from Fox News and MSNBC.
Burr’s victory is a crushing blow to Democrats, who viewed a win in North Carolina as essential to their effort to pick up the four to five seats needed to regain a Senate majority.
The two-term Republican senator pulled out a win after polling neck-and-neck with Democratic opponent Deborah Ross throughout the campaign. TPM’s PollTracker Average had Ross at 46.8 percent to Burr’s 46.7 percent as of Tuesday afternoon.
Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, was an early and vocal supporter of Donald Trump. After endorsing the real estate mogul in May, the North Carolina senator defended the nominee through his most high-profile controversies, was floated as a possible running mate, and was named as one of Trump’s national security advisors.
Burr condemned Trump’s now-infamous hot mic comments boasting about groping women without consent as “indefensible” but quickly forgave him, citing his Presbyterian upbringing.
While many Republicans distanced themselves from the GOP nominee after the “Access Hollywood” tape controversy, Burr actually hugged him closer in its wake.
“There’s not a separation between me and Donald Trump,” Burr told a local GOP branch in late October. “As a matter fact, there’s an ad on TV saying I’m too cozy to him.”
President Barack Obama mocked Burr as a Trump lapdog for these comments while stumping for Hillary Clinton and accused him of contributing to the atmosphere of partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C.
The incumbent senator sparked a mini-scandal of his own earlier this month by joking to supporters that he was surprised to see Clinton on the cover of a gun magazine without a bull’s-eye over her face. After CNN obtained audio of his remarks, Burr apologized and said the comment was “not befitting a senator.”
He will rejoin Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) on Capitol Hill for the next congressional session.