The Campaign Trail: A look at what happened this week in local politics

The national conventions loomed large in local politics this week as Republicans gathered in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 28-30, and Democrats prepared to meet in Charlotte Sept. 4-6.

Mark Meadows, a Cashiers real-estate developer who’s seeking to represent Western North Carolina’s 11th District, was one of only 10 congressional candidates nationwide who were invited to speak at the Republican National Convention.

He used his moment in the spotlight to slam President Barack Obama and make a case for Mitt Romney, who’d officially earned the Republican nomination for president earlier on Aug. 28.

“We have a president who wants his party to make us all dependent on government. We need leaders who believe in the prosperity that the free market brings,” Meadows declared, adding, “With Mitt Romney, we’re ready to take our country back.”

Meanwhile, Robbinsville native Hayden Rogers, Meadows’ Democratic opponent, used the occasion to contrast his own local origins with Meadows’ Florida roots.

“I’m sure Mark did a fine job delivering his remarks and was excited to be back in his hometown of Tampa, Fla., visiting with family and friends,” Rogers wrote in an email to Xpress. “Whenever Mark does finally make it back to the mountains, I’m hopeful he will shift his focus and join me in working on the issues that matter to the families and small businesses of Western North Carolina.”

In other developments in the 11th District race, the Meadows campaign touted the backing of the 60 Plus Association, a conservative seniors organization. And the Rogers team boasted about landing an endorsement from the Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance.

National conventions loom large

Although Rogers isn’t planning to attend the Democratic National Convention and hasn’t endorsed Obama, plenty of his fellow WNC Democrats have been making plans to see the president’s Sept. 6 address in Charlotte.

Hundreds of tickets to the event were handed out at Obama’s Asheville campaign office, and two busses chartered by the Buncombe County Democratic Party to bring people to Charlotte have sold out.

But the local party’s efforts to bring delegates up to the mountains has been more difficult: It’s planned “Big Tent Event” fundraiser was cancelled due to insufficient interest

Meanwhile, Democrats who aren’t heading to Charlotte are planning to gather at Pack’s Tavern in downtown Asheville to watch Obama’s address on a big projector screen.

About 15 Republicans gathered at the same bar Aug. 28 to watch the opening night of their party’s national convention. The mood was mellow as they watched prime-time speeches by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Ann Romney and others.

But at least one of the handful of Buncombe County Republican delegates in Tampa wasn’t having much fun at all. In a series of dispatches, Gary Shoemaker reported to Xpress that he was furious with the party’s treatment of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who ran against Romney in the primary. Describing the security presence as heavy-handed, he compared his experience in Tampa to spending “3 days in the RNC Gulag.”

City sticks with water referendum; Poll shows Ramsey up in Buncombe Statehouse race

In other political developments, the Asheville City Council decided to stick with its November referendum to ask voters if they support “the sale or lease of its water treatment system and water distribution system.”

And in local Statehouse races, Republican incumbent Rep. Tim Moffitt touted the endorsement of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce PAC while his District 116 opponent, Democrat Jane Whilden, thanked supporters at an Asheville Tourist baseball game.

Meanwhile, in the District 115 Statehouse race, a poll released from the conservative Civitas Institute showed that Republican Nathan Ramsey has a slight lead over Democrat Susan Wilson.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning writer and reporter who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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