Soon after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate last weekend, Western North Carolina congressional candidates were swept in to a raging national debate over the federal budget and entitlement program cuts.
At an Aug. 14 event billed as her general election kickoff, 10th District Democrat Patsy Keever sought to portray her Republican opponent, incumbent Rep. Patrick McHenry, as an extremist in the mold of Ryan.
McHenry returned fire by aiming to bind Keever to Democratic President Barack Obama and “the most extreme” parts of his agenda.
In their dueling campaign statements, the two also debated their positions on Social Security and Medicare, echoing the arguments of their respective national party leaders.
As Keever, an Asheville resident, was launching her fall campaign, McHenry came up the mountain from his home in Cherryville to attend an event with Republican Statehouse candidate Nathan Ramsey in Black Mountain. He’ll be back in the Asheville area on Aug. 23 for a tour of local breweries.
McHenry also recently earned the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business and was named one of the most influential people in business crowd funding by Forbes Magazine.
Meanwhile, Keever continued hammering him over his support for Ryan’s budget proposals at an Aug. 17 protest in front of Romney’s local campaign office.
In the 11th District, which no longer includes much of Asheville, Democrat Hayden Rogers and Republican Mark Meadows also found themselves in the throes of the national debate over Ryan and entitlement cuts. Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Campaign Committee released statements slamming each others’ candidate over Medicare. Rogers and Meadows also both shared the same stage for the first time since the primary election on Aug. 17, speaking to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association in Hendersonville. according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
City Council puts water system referendum on ballot; local tea party group garners national attention and more
In other developments, Asheville City Council voted unanimously to put a referendum on the sale of the city’s water system on the Nov. 6 ballot.
However, the vote won’t legally bind the North Carolina General Assembly from taking action on the matter. And on the day of the move by city council, Republican Statehouse Rep. Tim Moffitt’s website featured an excerpt from a report by the UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Government asserting that “local governments exist by legislative benevolence.” The post sparked lots of speculation over Moffitt’s intentions and the post’s meaning on the liberal Scrutiny Hooligans blog. The Progressive Pulse also posted a blog questioning if the the state lawmaker is sending a threat to the city of Asheville.
Meanwhile, a new parody of Moffitt’s website also sprouted up. The freshman legislator responded to the satirical site Aug. 16 via Twitter, saying he “Loved it!” and thanking “whoever wrote it.”
And in other political news the Asheville Tea Party garnered national attention for a ‘Machine Gun Social’ fundraiser event planned for Sept. 29. A wide range of major outlets picked up the story, including USA Today and the Huffington Post. Asheville Tea Party chair Jane Bilello seemed happy about the development, sending out an email touting the coverage and urging members to check it out. However, she also sought to address some of the questions raised in the Huffington Post article with a follow-up response that argued for gun ownership rights.
Meanwhile, Mountain Xpress is seeking reader suggestions for questions to ask this year’s candidates for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, N.C. General Assembly and U.S. Congress. Please let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to ask the candidates as we conduct interviews and put together our election guide questionnaire by posting them here.