The 2004 United States Senate election in North Carolina was held on November 2, 2004. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator John Edwards decided to retire from the Senate after one term in order to run unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nomination, and become his party's vice presidential nominee. RepublicanRichard Burr won the open seat, making it the fifth consecutive election in which partisan control of the seat changed.
Both major-party candidates engaged in negative campaign tactics, with Bowles' campaign attacking Burr for special interest donations and his positions on trade legislation, and Burr's campaign attacking Bowles for his connections to the Clinton administration. Both attacks had basis in reality: Burr's campaign raised funds from numerous political action committees and at least 72 of the 100 largest Fortune 500 companies, while Bowles departed from the Clinton administration in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Burr won the election by 4%. He joined the Senate in January 2005. Bowles went on to become the president of the UNC system.