Spence Campbell, chairman of the Henderson County Republican Party, has announced he plans to vie for the 11th District Congressional seat currently held by freshman Democrat Heath Shuler of Waynesville.
Campbell, 63, is the second local Republican to announce, along with Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower, whom Campbell expressed admiration for in a brief interview with Xpress. Speculation is still rampant that defeated Rep. Charles Taylor will try to get his seat back, but so far the Brevard Republican has been mum about his intentions.
Like Mumpower, Campbell says he believes he not only can unseat Shuler, but he also professes a similar desire to bring the GOP back to its true conservative roots.
“I think what has happened over the course of too many years is that elected leaders have forgotten that they work for the people,” he says. “The result is, we lose those elections because the people have lost trust in the officials they elected. So, in my campaign, I’ll be going out to the district and try to talk to as many people as I can about creating a partnership that will allow the leadership to be returned to its rightful place, which is in the hands of the electorate. Nobody in the national [Republican] leadership has explained any vision for what’s going on or why it’s going on. It’s all attributed to the war, but that’s really not the issue. I think that there’s just an absence of vision about the future of the party. As long as we look in the rear-view mirror only for folks that make us comfortable and positions that make us happy, we’re not going to win.”
That said, the election still boils down to beating Shuler, whom both Mumpower and Campbell liken to a political chimera. “Heath Shuler ran as a conservative Democrat but has voted overwhelmingly with the liberal leadership in Congress,” Campbell argues.
In addition to leading the Henderson County GOP, Campbell also serves as a member of the county’s Department of Social Services Board. From 1997 to 2004 he was president of Ewbank & Ewbank Insurance and Real Estate in Hendersonville. Campbell spent the bulk of his adult life in the military, serving two tours of Vietnam and a career in the Army’s military-intelligence branch.
“I’m a retired military officer; I’ve seen the world,” he says. “I know America’s place in the world. I know both the respect we receive and the disrespect we receive. … I think the war in Iraq is the battlefield of today, but it will be somewhere else tomorrow until these issues are resolved.”