Last minute filing results in wide range of candidates this election cycle

In mid-November, Karl Gillespie (center) announced his intention to run for the N.C. House seat being vacated by Kevin Corbin (right), who earlier had annouced his bid for the N.C. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Davis (left). On Dec. 16, Davis traveled to Raleigh to file with the State Board of Elections his intention to run for congressman as Rep. Mark Meadows has decided not to run for reelection.

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

After eight years serving the United States House of Representative District 11, Congressman Mark Meadows announced his retirement last month. Shortly after the announcement, Senator Jim Davis headed to Raleigh to add his name to the ballot to run for Congress. 

“For everything there is a season,” Rep Meadows said in a release. “After prayerful consideration and discussion with family, today I’m announcing that my time serving Western North Carolina in Congress will come to a close at the end of this term.” 

The deadline for Congressman Meadows to file for office for a fifth term would have come at noon Friday, Dec. 17, and much speculation has been bandied about whether or not he had planned to do so. Although Meadows has publicly said that the new congressional districts maps wouldn’t impact his decision to run or not, he did not confirm what exactly that decision was until the announcement. 

“This was a decision I struggled with greatly,” he said. “These last 8 years, I have been so blessed to serve the people of [District] NC-11 and help give a voice to millions of Americans who feel Washington, DC has forgotten them. Since serving alongside President Trump, I have been a witness to historic economic prosperity, unemployment levels I only dreamed of when I took office, tax and regulatory reforms that are putting the American worker first, our Israeli embassy moved to Jerusalem, and trade deals that were once thought impossible. I have seen our law enforcement and first responders receive the support they deserve and our military once again put on a path to maintain its superiority. Through it all, I am so thankful to have been able to serve and give back to the great country I call home.”

Meadows has climbed the political ladder over the last four years and has positioned himself to be one of the most powerful conservatives in Congress. His name has been on the top of the watch list for Chief of Staff for President Trump and despite previous claims he was not seeking a job within the Trump cabinet in the past, it looks like that may have changed. 

“My work with President Trump and his administration is only the beginning,” said Meadows. “This president has accomplished incredible results for the country in just three years, and I’m fully committed to staying in the fight with him and his team to build on those successes and deliver on his promises for the years to come. I’ve always said Congress is a temporary job, but the fight to return Washington, DC to its rightful owner, We The People, has only just begun.”

Congressman Meadows was one of many outspoken Republicans during the recent impeachment vote in the House that ultimately voted to impeach President Trump. Despite the vote in the House, Rep. Meadows stands by the president and plans to continue his support for President Trump and his re-election campaign, which will likely now feature Rep. Meadows in a new capacity in the White House. 

Prior to Meadows’ announcement, several Democrats and even a Green Party candidate from Macon County had already announced their candidacy and intent to challenge the eight-year Congressman. After the congressman’s announcement, Haywood County Republican Lynda Bennett announced her intent to run for the District 11 seat. Bennett has been a supporter of Meadows as well as President Trump. 

There was question about whether other local politicians such as Macon County native Kevin Corbin would abandon his candidacy for Senate and run for Congress instead, however, the deadline to withdraw for the Senate was on Dec. 17, which would make Corbin ineligible for a run in Congress, at least in this cycle. 

Senator Jim Davis, however, who announced his retirement from the N.C. Senate, saw Meadows’ retirement as an opportunity to seek higher office and immediately set out toward Raleigh to file with the State Board of Elections. Like Davis, multiple Republicans made the trip to Raleigh to file for the seat ahead of the deadline. In addition to Haywood County realtor Lynda Bennett, Buncombe County resident Charles Archerd, also filed Dec. 16. Congressman Meadows’ Deputy Chief of Staff, Wayne King filed for the District 11 seat on Friday, Dec. 17, just before deadline. Along with King, other Republicans filing for the seat include Dan Driscoll, Joey Osborne, Steven Fekete,  Jr., Dillon Gentry, Madison Cawthron, Matthew Burril, and Vance Patterson, who has challenged Meadows in past elections. Republican candidates are from all over the district ranging from Winston Salem to Banner Elk. 

Tamara Lynn Zwinak filed to run as a Green Party candidate, and according to her registration with the State Board of Elections, resides in Franklin. Tracey DeBruhl, a Libertarian candidate from Asheville filed late on Dec. 17. 

The Macon County Board of Commissioners race also saw several last minute candidates. The District III seat, currently held by Paul Higdon will be an uncontested seat, meaning Higdon will be re-elected to another term. For District II, up until late on the afternoon of Dec. 10, just one name was on the ballot, Terry Bradley, former Franklin Police Chief to run for commissioner. That afternoon two others, both Democrats, filed to run for the District II seat, Olga Lampkin and Betty Cloer Wallace. By the Friday deadline, Republicans Bryan Rauers and Josh Young had also filed for District II, resulting in the seat now appearing on the March primary ballot to pick which Democrat and which Republican will appear on the November ballot. 

Macon County Republican Karl Gillespie filed to run for North Carolina House District 120 and while he will not have a March primary opponent, he will be running against a Murphy Democrat, Susan Landis in November 2020. Another Macon County Republican, Kevin Corbin, will face a March primary opponent in Sarah Conway, a Republican from Jackson County. The winner of the March primary will appear on the November ballot for Senate District 50. 

Primary elections in North Carolina will be held on March 3. The General Election is set for Nov. 3.