Potomac Fever

After resolving it in his “heart, mind, body and spirit,” Asheville psychologist and City Council member Carl Mumpower says he’s ready to vie for the GOP nomination in a bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler in next year’s Congressional election. 

Our next Congressman?: City Council member Carl Mumpower says he’s ready to challenge Rep. Heath Shuler for the District 11 seat in Congress.

“I think the best principle-based conservative in Western North Carolina should be our next Congressman, and I want anybody that falls in that category to run,” Mumpower tells Xpress. “Trust me, this is not a decision I made lightly [or] with a whole lot of interest in my personal future. I just simply believe that after six years on this City Council, functioning as a conservative in Asheville, it appears I have a stronger skill set and am a more principle-based candidate in a better position than most to take on the challenge.”

Mumpower, who intends to continue serving in his current term on City Council, says he wants to win “to establish an independent and authentic conservative voice as our representative in Washington.” If elected, he said in his Sept 12 campaign announcement, he would push “essential issues,” including: “securing our borders; resisting a ballooning national debt; challenging Washington’s indulgence of special interests; reducing bureaucratic strangulation of our education, business and health care systems; redirecting our energies in the fight against the harms of hard drugs; and focusing on enforcement of existing laws over the creation of new ones.”

Mumpower is the first Republican to announce a challenge to Shuler, who unseated incumbent Republican Rep. Charles Taylor last November. Taylor has not said whether he will try to return to Congress, and other potential Republican candidates—most notably state Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville and Jeff Hunt of Brevard, the district attorney for Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties—have said in recent weeks that they would not run.

However, Mumpower could have some GOP competition soon. Henderson County Republican Party Chairman Spence Campbell says he is pondering a run.

Though the Republican National Committee has targeted Shuler for defeat in a district that has traditionally leaned Republican, Mumpower bills himself as the “un-candidate” and says he will not be beholden to the party—though he will accept any help he can get. He also contends he will not pander for money in a race that could cost millions. In the 2006 race, Shuler spent $1.8 million, while Taylor spent $4.17 million.

“I’m not going to chase money,” Mumpower says. “I’m not going to sell my soul to get elected.” Though adept at ruffling liberal feathers, Mumpower hopes to bank on, among other things, his reputation as a straight shooter, he says. “You may not agree with me, but you know I don’t B.S. you. … I believe if I shoot straight with people like you [in the media] and the citizens of Western North Carolina, I believe they’ll respond to that.”

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