Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Republican voters will head back to the polls this Spring for a run-off election for the District 11 Congressional race. While Lynda Bennett was able to secure the majority of the votes, she did not meet the 30 percent threshold required to avoid a run-off race. Madison Cawthorn, who received the second highest number of votes, requested a runoff election which will take place across District 11 on May 12.
The runoff election will include early voting, which will begin on April 23. Macon County Board of Elections Director Melanie Thibault said that she is meeting with the local board of elections on Friday to discuss the full details of the early voting election. According to Thibault, it is up to individual county discretion as to how early voting during a runoff election is managed. The election is held at the expense of the county— so if the county elects to hold early voting in the same capacity as the initial primary election, which will be at Highlands and Franklin locations from 8 a.m. until 7:30 pm., a full staff will need to be in place at both locations from April 23 until May 9. However, the county can decide to strictly hold the runoff election at the Board of Elections, which would mean that election staff could man the station and voting would be open during normal operational hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The runoff election for District 11 would only be for Republican voters or unaffiliated voters who pulled a Republican ballot during the primary.
The District 11 race could become further convoluted as Governor Roy Cooper could appoint someone to fill the District 11 seat in the interim since Incumbent Mark Meadows was appointed as President Donald Trump’s new Chief of Staff last Friday. The appointment will leave his seat vacant and statute dictates the responsibility to fill it falling on the governor. Gov. Cooper could elect to leave the seat vacant until the November election, which would leave District 11 without a representative in Congress for more than eight months.
President Trump announced Meadows’ new role in his cabinet via Twitter on Friday night. Meadows had already announced his retirement from Congress and stated he planned to continue working with the president but that he was initially unsure in what capacity.
“I want to thank the people of Western North Carolina,” Meadows said in a press release on Friday night. “Serving you in Congress has been the honor of my life. It may be in a different role, but I’ll continue working every day to deliver results for you— and main street Americans all over the country— in the months and years to come.”