WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina will pass on running for Senate again next year against incumbent Republican Richard Burr, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday night.
Hagan’s decision will leave Democrats with few good options to take out Burr, who would have been favored to win re-election to a third term even if Hagan did challenge him. The person who confirmed her decision did so on condition of anonymity to disclose private deliberations.
Democrats have an uphill climb as they try to retake the Senate majority they lost last year, and they’ve never seen North Carolina as a top-tier race. But Hagan would have brought high name ID and an extensive donor network to the contest.
Hagan lost by less than 2 percentage points to Republican Thom Tillis last year during a cycle that heavily favored the GOP. She raised nearly $25 million for her campaign and benefited from tens of millions of dollars in super PAC expenditures in what became the nation’s most expensive Senate race.
Democrats were hopeful they could lure Hagan back onto the ballot in a 2016 campaign cycle where Democrats will benefit from higher presidential election turnout in a battleground state.
Democrats must net five Senate seats to take back the majority, or four if the party hangs onto the White House and can send the vice president to break ties in the Senate.
Hagan first won in 2008 — upsetting Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole — when Barack Obama also was on the ballot.
Now Democrats are left eyeing second-tier candidates, among them State Treasurer Janet Cowell , state Sen. Josh Stein and outgoing University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross. Still Democrats insist they will contest the state and mount a competitive race.
But Burr is not seen as particularly threatened. He won comfortably in 2010 and his new job as Intelligence Committee chairman adds to his argument of influence for North Carolina.
Hagan’s decision was first reported Tuesday by Roll Call.
Robertson reported from Raleigh, North Carolina.