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This election cycle, you've heard from a lot of people about Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, and the parade of right-wing extremists seeking to change the very fundamentals of America.

But you haven't heard enough about the incumbents -- those who share the values of Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and tea party activists but are already in office.

That's why I want you to meet Senator Richard Burr (R-NC).

Senator Burr has spent the better part of two decades in Washington, and the only thing he can show for it is a record of voting in lockstep with the Bush agenda.

His claim to fame isn't a signature piece of legislation, he is mostly known both in his state and in Washington for his response to the 2008 financial crisis. He told his wife to "go to the ATM machine, and ... draw out everything it will let you take."

But here's the real issue at hand: Senator Burr is next in line to become the ranking Republican on the Energy Committee. Any Republican with the power to influence America's energy policy is cause for alarm, but Senator Burr is a special case.

He'll throw the committee into partisan chaos at a time when the Senate will take up serious energy reform, and Burr will certainly do the bidding of his largest campaign donors from BP, Halliburton, and more. Just this year, Burr blamed the Gulf oil spill on environmental protections -- calling for less regulation to solve the crisis. Senator Burr even went so far as to say he had "no criticism of BP" during the spill.

Is that someone you want influencing energy policy? I know I don't.

The good news: Burr hails from a state that is trending blue. 2008 saw President Obama take North Carolina by a hair, Kay Hagan beat Elizabeth Dole for a U.S. Senate seat and Democrat Bev Purdue took the Governor's mansion. North Carolina has become a true swing state. Burr is locked in a real fight with progressive champion Elaine Marshall running to retire him.

Marshall has a record of defying electoral expectations, and has a truly remarkable record of taking on Wall Street and the special interests. She was the first person in North Carolina to enact lobbying reform, and as Secretary of State in North Carolina she has helped return millions of dollars from Wall Street scam artists.

This is a race worth investing in. Senator Richard Burr needs to be retired and replaced with a progressive champion like Elaine Marshall. I hope you'll join me in supporting her campaign by chipping in as little as $5 to her today.

Originally posted to Gov Howard Dean MD on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 08:20 AM PDT.

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