Will the real Richard Burr please tweet?
I have been told I am “disgusting” because I “keep guns accessible” and am responsible for the resulting gun-crime victims.
I have been chastised for skipping a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
I have been warned to “get some boxes to pack your stuff.”
Sorry, Twitter fans, but I am not U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican who is seeking re-election to another six-year term. I am just an editor who oversees five Detroit News reporters covering politics and government.
Since June, my Twitter account has been the occasional but persistent target of liberals such as MoveOn.org, Democrats and the odd self-proclaimed independent who can’t seem to figure out that @RichardBurr_DN is not @SenatorBurr, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman.
Sen. Richard Mauze Burr is a conservative Republican who was first elected in 1994 during then-House Minority Leader Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” backlash against President Bill Clinton. He was one of 54 Republicans who won former Democratic seats and helped the GOP take control of the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the Senate for the first time in 40 years.
When John Edwards became Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, Burr made the jump to the vacant North Carolina Senate seat. Now he is seeking a third term in Washington.
By contrast, I am Richard E. Burr, and I don’t necessarily approve this message.
Opponents can certainly criticize Sen. Burr, but it doesn’t help their cause when they miss their intended Twitter target.
Perhaps it is a sign of a growing cultural and political illiteracy exacerbated by the immediacy and sloppiness of social media. Maybe it is proof that a deep ideological divide in America clouds the discernment of some Americans.
And possibly it is a signal that Twitter should provide more characters for biographies so I can include “Not @SenatorBurr.”
As I was tweeted by @ClarksonChuck, who blocked me from reading his biography and tweets, “Too ashamed to write Republican Senator in your Twitter profile? You’ll go far.”
It is difficult to tell how I became confused in parts of the Twitter universe for Sen. Burr. The end of my Twitter address stands for Detroit News, and the initials DN don’t come close to resembling the abbreviation for North Carolina, even when reversed.
When the attacks began, my Twitter photo was from my days as a 10-year-old Little League baseball player. In the past month, I updated to a photo with a partially obscured Richard Burr for U.S. Senate campaign sign on my desk, a gift from a former Washington Post Writers Group sales representative.
But none of the Twitter critics mention the photos. I just seem to be another case of social media mistaken identity.
In mid-June, Forbes staffer Corinne Jurney, a former Raleigh News & Observer reporter, tweeted that “gun reform could happen if @RichardBurr_DN is ousted from Senate. Take note, NC.”
In an intervention, Raleigh-based WRAL-TV web editor Evan Matsumoto tweeted back to her and me: “different Richard Burr?”
Jurney quickly apologized: “good catch! Sorry nice Richard Burr. I will try again.”
Every burp in the campaign puts me back in the crosshairs.
After Talking Points Memo reported a week ago Thursday that a Burr campaign ad highlighting his work to help disadvantaged North Carolina children used stock footage of black children in Africa or “non US” locations, I was chided by @MCHIns in Southern California that “Black folks are smarter than you think...” and “@RichardBurr_DN does not care about black ppl!”
It prompted a quick defense from Linda Cobra, a “Bostonian Torontonian” known as @linda25b: “Anybody upset w @RichardBurr_DN...should GET A LIFE.”
The funny thing is Sen. Burr’s office and re-election campaign do not follow me on Twitter, though I follow them. I asked Sen. Burr’s office and re-election campaign for comment, but never received an answer.
So with two months to go until the general election, here’s some advice for Democrats, independents and the occasional Republican who either want me to “#DisarmHate” or “Protect our 2A rights of gun owners at all costs”: You have the wrong Richard Burr.
And to McLeod Phillips of Raleigh, North Carolina: There are worse things in life than to be “represented by clowns like @RichardBurr_DN.”