Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives District 11 — Republican

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As of Dec. 18 — two days before the candidate filing deadline — no Republicans were seeking the nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives District 11 seat. By noon on Dec. 20, 12 had gotten their names on the ballot, creating the largest primary field of any congressional race in the state.

What changed? On the morning of Dec. 19, four-term Republican Rep. Mark Meadows announced that he would not seek reelection to the House.

A crew of hopefuls — only one of whom, N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, has previously held political office — are now striving to fill the void. Many identify as investors, entrepreneurs or small-business owners, including Chuck Archerd, Madison Cawthorn, Dan Driscoll, Dillon Gentry, Joey Osborne and Vance Patterson. Davis and Albert Wiley Jr. both come from medical backgrounds, while Steven Fekete Jr. is a retired UPS automotive technician.

Meadows himself has endorsed the only female candidate in the field, Lynda Bennett, who currently serves as the vice chair of the Haywood County Republican Party. According to Politico, Bennett is a friend of Meadows’ wife, Debbie Meadows, and had registered a campaign website on Oct. 28, suggesting that she had advance knowledge of the representative’s retirement. Bennett did not provide answers to the Xpress questionnaire.

Many local leaders, however, have thrown their weight behind Wayne King, Mark Meadows’ former deputy chief of staff. King’s endorsements include N.C. Rep. Michele Presnell (R-Burnsville); Republican Lowell Griffin, Henderson County sheriff; unaffiliated Van Duncan, former Buncombe County sheriff; and Republican Woodfin Mayor Jerry VeHaun.

The name of each candidate is linked to their responses in the post:

Chuck Archerd

Chuck ArcherdWebsite: ArcherdForCongress.com
Occupation: Retired certified public accountant and real estate investor
Previous candidacy or offices held: Ran for Buncombe County Commission chair in 2016
Key endorsements: Did not respond
Amount of money raised: Did not respond
Top three donors: Did not respond

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) Illegal immigration. I will work with President Trump to ensure that the border wall is fully funded and completed on time. Secondly, I plan to introduce legislation to stop the proliferation of sanctuary cities being championed by liberal Democrats. By accomplishing these two priorities, we progress toward keeping our citizens safe and our country secured. 2) ICE detainer requests. I will introduce legislation to require local law enforcement to work with federal law enforcement (including ICE) and honor ICE detainer requests.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? 1) Illegal immigration. 2) Unrest in the Middle East. 3) North Korean nuclear proliferation.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? Congressman Meadows has taken conservative Christian principles to Washington to fight for President Trump’s agenda. I would build on this by representing all citizens of the 11th Congressional District based upon these same principles.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? Eighty percent of the issues that touch the citizens of the 11th District can be addressed with effective communication and commonsense solutions. I will work with other members of Congress to address these issues affecting our citizens.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? As a former CPA and successful small businessman with over 35 years of experience, I have made budgets, hired and motivated employees and gotten results. I expect results from our government. Just as I have fought government bureaucracy to get results in my business, I will fight this same bureaucracy to get results for the citizens of the 11th District.

Lynda Bennett

Website: LyndaForCongress.com
Occupation: Real estate broker
Previous candidacy or offices held: Did not respond
Key endorsements: U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, House Freedom Fund, Senate Conservative Fund, Asheville Tea PAC
Amount of money raised: Did not respond
Top three donors: Did not respond

Did not provide answers to Xpress questionnaire.

Madison Cawthorn

Madison CawthornWebsite: MadisonCawthorn.com
Occupation: Small-business owner
Previous candidacy or offices held: Did not respond
Key endorsements: Did not respond
Amount of money raised: Did not respond
Top three donors: Did not respond

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) I-26 remaining a two-lane highway in our corridor. We must have an infrastructure system that represents how vibrant and alive the economy of Western North Carolina is. 2) Lowering the taxes our residents have to pay is vital. Keeping the government out of our lives, and keeping the money we earn in our pockets, enables us to be successful.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? 1) Ensuring that terrorist entities and the cartels cannot easily penetrate our Southern border. 2) Making sure that Iran does not and never will possess a nuclear weapon. 3) Curbing the threat posed by North Korea and its irrational dictator, Kim Jong Un.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? Ensuring that his vote was never for sale and that it belonged to those he represented. I take great pride in having a congressman who never backs down from pressure applied by Republican leadership, mainstream media or the radical Democrats. I will carry on his legacy of having a strong backbone — after all, mine is reinforced with titanium.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? Democrats have gone so far left, led by Nancy Pelosi and AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], that we cannot reason with them anymore. We cannot follow them off this socialist cliff simply because we want to “find common ground.”

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? I have the ability to win in November. We have to come to grips with the new reality of District 11. Asheville is an island of blue in a sea of red. If we do not select a candidate who can reach into urban Buncombe County and reach young undecided voters, we could lose. This seat is far too valuable to select a candidate who is cut from the same fabric as the vast majority of other D.C. politicians.

Jim Davis

Jim DavisWebsite: JimDavisForCongress.com
Occupation: Orthodontist
Previous candidacy or offices held: Macon County commissioner 1996-2000, 2004-10; N.C. senator District 50 2011-present
Key endorsements: Ralph Hise, N.C. senator District 47; Robbie Holland, Macon County sheriff; Curtis Cochran, Swain County sheriff; Kevin Corbin, N.C. House representative District 120; Cal Stiles, Cherokee County commissioner
Amount of money raised: Did not respond
Top three donors: Did not respond

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) Jobs — continue to support tax and regulatory reform to enhance the creation of additional jobs. 2) Lack of high-speed internet — support additional governmental assistance for cost-effective, high-speed internet service.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? 1) The spread of terrorism and the countries that finance terrorism. 2) Border security. 3) National debt and deficit.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? Mark has been a champion for constituent service, and I plan to continue that emphasis.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? I was the primary sponsor of three significant bills addressing the opioid epidemic. Those bills would not have been possible without working across the political aisle, especially with Democratic N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein and his staff.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? As a 10-year Macon County commissioner with over nine years in the N.C. Senate, I am the only candidate who has elected office experience. That experience has proven that I am an effective legislator who has the ability to work to get things done for my constituents. I am qualified, experienced and eager to continue my political service in the U.S. Congress.

Dan Driscoll

Dan DriscollWebsite: DanDriscoll.com
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Previous candidacy or offices held: Did not respond
Key endorsements: Did not respond
Amount of money raised: Over $100,000
Top three donors: Did not respond

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? I know firsthand the struggles of creating a business in the current regulatory environment. I believe that a pro-business environment and well-trained citizenry create more stable, higher-paying jobs. Additionally, the infrastructure in rural America needs upgrading. We are not prepared for the tectonic changes that are coming with advancing technology. Weak infrastructure is significantly hindering the ability of many Americans to start and grow businesses. I’m passionate about helping bring federal spending and innovation to these areas.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? The first and most pressing threat for any country is securing the borders. Building a wall allows us to control our immigration and ensure those entering are safe, productive and taxed members of society. Second, we must deal with direct threats like President Trump did with Qassem Soleimani and Iran. Third, we have to prevent growing threats like China, who is seeking to reshape the world with an authoritarian model that stands in direct conflict to our democratic values.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? Congressman Meadows’ greatest legacy is that he has been a fierce advocate for the people of Western North Carolina and our mountain values. It is my hope that I can build upon his legacy and continue to make the constituents of NC-11 proud.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? I was thrilled to see the bipartisan support behind President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The united front the U.S. Congress was able to display behind the president’s leadership strengthens our global economic position and benefits the small businesses of Western North Carolina.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? I’m a third-generation wartime veteran. This upbringing instilled in me a focus on hard work and a love of country. I aspire to be a leader of the next generation of conservative problem solvers that we need in Congress.

Steven Fekete Jr.

Steven Fekete JrWebsite: StevenFeketeJr.com
Occupation: Retired UPS automotive technician
Previous candidacy or offices held: Ran for Caldwell County Commission.
Key endorsements:
Endorsed by everyone I know
Amount of money raised: Self-funded
Top three donors: Self-funded for the primary

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) Job growth and development. Return federal lands to the counties of North Carolina that the federal government confiscated from the citizens in District 11. 2) Reverse the law that eliminated the ability of students to declare bankruptcy on student loans when there is no work in that field when and if they graduate.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? 1) The porous wall that needs to be finished to stop terror and drugs. 2) Stop the killing of citizens in America by the use of abortion. 3) The expansion of charter schools to stop the release of adults who cannot write cursive and understand the Constitution under which we live.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? President Trump has used the shoulders of Mark Meadows to continue the forward movement of self-reliance that was taught in Western North Carolina to generations of strong people. President Trump has started the train toward realizing that we do not need the Democrats to survive. We sure do not need Hollywood and intellectuals to lecture us on morality and decency. We are independent thinkers here in the land of reality!

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? We have plenty of common ground here in the real world of North Carolina. We have the umbrella that everyone is invited under. It is the Democrats that are exclusive and judgmental on who they consider worthy to talk to. We are succeeding as a country, and yet no one on the side of the Democrats will recognize it and help President Trump move forward. They are stuck on “impeach the mf-er.” Why are they so evil-minded and unhelpful?

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? I am a common man with an uncommon name. I have lived a real-world life without a silver spoon. I have a similar way of looking at and approaching problems as President Trump. I have been inspired by what happened in 2016. We need more citizens involved  in government to clear the swamp. That is why the Constitution includes “We the people.” I have the advantage of being Steven Fekete Jr., and they are not.

Dillon Gentry

Dillon GentryWebsite: facebook.com/DillonGentryUSHouse
Occupation: Sales/Entrepreneur
Previous candidacy or offices held: Ran in 2018 prior to redistricting in District 5
Key endorsements:
None
Amount of money raised: Precisely $0.00
Top three donors: None. I do not plan on attempting to raise money

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? Most day-to-day issues can and should be dealt with on the most local level possible. When it comes to issues of the federal level, Congress needs to do its job. This includes strengthening our Southern border security, getting an accurate count of the number of legal voters that are in any given district, eliminating wasteful and deficit spending, ensuring a level playing field in the digital public square and, most importantly, reducing and eliminating taxes where possible.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? In terms of geopolitical rivals, China, Iran and Russia. We have been so consumed with domestic politics we have blinded ourselves to the moves China is making, including the literal purchase of much of Africa. Our critical infrastructure and overall cybersecurity (not referring to election interference) is weak compared to other countries. I would also include border security as a top issue. The border is far too porous and could be exploited by terrorists and terror sponsor states, including Iran.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? Mark Meadows is/was a very effective congressman. He leaves big shoes to fill. I for one appreciate his fearless advocacy for our president. Leaving his legacy as the Freedom Caucus Chairman and founder, I would seek to continue that ideology of limited government, especially at the federal level.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? With today’s Democratic Party, I think it is safe to say there is no common ground to be had among platforms. That is through no fault of our own — the Dems, broadly speaking, are so blinded by rage and hatred they refuse to acknowledge basic reason anymore.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? I think Congress as a whole, including most Republican members, does not understand the importance of regulating the social media space. Companies get to arbitrarily decide what information you are and are not allowed to see — from shadow banning Republicans to outright attacking or forcing out conservatives, this will have dramatic repercussions in the very near future. I want us to have a representative that understands the importance of these issues and knows how to fight back.

Wayne King

Wayne KingWebsite: WayneKingForCongress.com
Occupation: Deputy chief of staff for Congressman Mark Meadows
Previous candidacy or offices held: Did not respond
Key endorsements: Van Duncan, former Buncombe County Sheriff; Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin; Michele Presnell, N.C. House representative District 118; Woodfin Mayor Jerry VeHaun; Henderson County school board member Amy Lynn Holt
Amount of money raised: Did not respond
Top three donors: Did not respond

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) Protecting our constitutional freedoms. From our Second Amendment rights to religious freedom to our free market economy, the principles our country was founded on are under attack. I will stand up for our Constitution and fight to preserve our freedoms. 2) Keeping our economy growing: WNC is seeing the benefits of an economy that is stronger than it’s been in years with 50-year low unemployment and rising family incomes. We must continue embracing the pro-growth economic policies that got us here.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? 1) Radical Islamic terrorism. We’ve made great strides in the war on terror but must remain ever vigilant. 2) Iran. They engage in terrorism, seek to destabilize the Middle East and want to destroy us and our friend Israel. 3) Securing our border. For far too long, terrorists, gangs, drug dealers, human traffickers and violent criminals have snuck across our border. President Trump is right that we must build the wall, secure the border and keep them out before they harm U.S. citizens.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? Congressman Meadows has left a tremendous legacy as a congressman who always stood up for the people of WNC, a congressman who provided excellent constituent service and a congressman who has always fought for what is right and never backed down. That’s a legacy I helped build as deputy chief of staff/district director. It’s a legacy I will build on by following the example that he set, putting the people of WNC first and sticking to my conservative principles.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? I’ve found common ground in helping and serving our fellow Americans. In Congressman Meadows’ office, we helped hundreds of residents with issues with the VA, their disability, etc.; helped residents, farmers, businesses and local governments recover from natural disasters; and more. We never once asked what their party was. We just helped. As we worked with other congressional offices, the Trump and Obama administrations and federal agencies to help, we found party doesn’t matter when it comes to helping people.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? What I bring to the table and will help me win in November is the experience of having served as Congressman Meadows’ deputy chief of staff/district director for 7 years. In that role, I worked hand in hand with sheriffs, state legislators, county commissioners, local elected officials, farm leaders, employers, ministers and everyday people across this district. No one else has those relationships. No one else has the understanding of this district like I do from having served in that role.

Joey Osborne

Joey OsborneWebsite: JoeyOsborne.com
Occupation: Entrepreneur and business owner
Previous candidacy or offices held: Did not respond
Key endorsements: Did not respond
Amount of money raised: $250,000
Top three donors: Self

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) Economic growth and job creation in our small mountain communities is always a major issue. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I understand what it takes to create these opportunities. I would look to remove barriers that prevent opportunities to create good-paying jobs and work to promote economic growth. 2) Preserving our rights, including our religious freedoms and Second Amendment rights. I will always defend our Constitution and fight against any socialist agenda.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? It is easy to say China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, but the biggest threat to our security is the partisan divide in our nation. Our role in the world has been underpinned by a bipartisan effort to provide for our security and that of our allies. Now, partisan divides have the potential to make our ability to act in our national interest when needed much slower, giving our adversaries more opportunity to act in ways making us less secure.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? Congressman Meadows has been a consistent conservative voice for Western North Carolina. He has promoted limited government principles and been a defender of our rights and freedoms. I would continue to fight for North Carolina values, our freedoms and a fiscally responsible federal government.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? I believe that we all do love our country but often have very different approaches and ideas for our future. One area is our growing national debt. Our debt is unsustainable, and we cannot leave this debt to future generations. I believe that I have the right personality to bring both sides together to find solutions to balance the budget and reduce our debt. I refuse to fail for not trying to work together on this and other issues.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? I bring a political outsider vision to this race. Time and time again, we elect career politicians and political insiders, and the results are usually the same: a dysfunctional and broken Congress. I am a businessman and entrepreneur. I have created jobs and opportunity for people in North Carolina and across the country. I have never held office or run for office until now, much like President Trump in 2016. I am asking voters to give me a shot.

Vance Patterson

Vance PattersonWebsite: VancePattersonForCongress.com
Occupation: Business/industrial manufacturer
Previous candidacy or offices held: Candidate for U.S. Congress 11th District 2012 — runoff with Mark Meadows (finished second)
Key endorsements: Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, Dr. Ed Bonomo, Larry Henry, Linda Dahl, Mary Jo Patterson
Amount of money raised: As in my businesses, as needed
Top three donors: Self-funding through primary

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) Drug abuse. Supply and demand is making methamphetamines resurge as the No. 1 addiction in WNC. We must make sure law enforcement has what they need to stop this flow of methamphetamines out of Atlanta and Greenville, S.C.  Then support treatment of the afflicted at facilities like Oasis Treatment Center in Asheville. 2) Security. In the home, in our schools and under the law, ensuring all are treated legally and fairly. Protect personal rights and property rights.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? 1) Health security. While we have the best health care processes and products, our system is broken in favor of corporations and institutions. This must be realigned to benefit the public’s needs. 2) Securing the border. Controlling the border will allow border enforcement to focus on criminals abusing our country and not on families looking for a better life. Immigration reform to allow immigrants who want to be Americans. 3) Lowering the national debt.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? I like that he spent a lot of his first two years on constituent services, covering the entire 11th District with his efforts. In his first six months, his office addressed 613 cases across WNC. This is impressive, in that a representative shouldn’t just get elected and not be heard from once in Washington. I will do the same. Supreme Court, Israel, parental rights.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? I married a Democrat 45 years ago and am still happily married! On education, my wife and I have gifted 14 Charters of Freedom settings in communities across WNC.  These are permanent displays of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Our Foundation Forward is dedicated to preserving American history and teaching civics. These settings are for all children, veterans and citizens of Western North Carolina.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? I am a serial entrepreneur, having started 21 companies and currently operating seven. I am an American manufacturer. I have experience negotiating around the world in China, Saudi, Brazil, Mexico, Scotland and Russia. I will be the congressional authority on Business Trump! When sitting in a committee meeting, I will explain from a business standpoint what Trump is doing, how it will work and why it will work. This will benefit the Democrats as well as the Republicans in the committee.

Albert Wiley Jr.

Albert WileyWebsite: None
Occupation: Former nuclear engineer; for past 40 years a physician, cancer specialist/scientist
Previous candidacy or offices held: No elected political office, but elected by peers to numerous professional offices. 
Key endorsements:
When I ran in Wisconsin for U.S. Congress in 1984, I was firmly endorsed by President Reagan and by other political officeholders. In the past, I was endorsed by U.S. senators for surgeon general and for U.S. ambassador to IAEA/WHO.
Amount of money raised: Currently self-funding
Top three donors: Self-funding, as I always do in primary elections

What are the two most important issues facing WNC residents, and how would you address them? 1) Job creation, primarily by improving infrastructure and by using existing, local community and other colleges to train people for the biotechnology, information technology, AI and robotics industries. 2) Doing whatever I can to restore trust in government by being diligent and technologically informed on oversight committees and addressing real problems regarding the environment, such as forest fires and clean water.

What do you see as the top three national security threats facing the United States? 1) Proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. 2) The breakdown of our immigration system and associated crime (human trafficking, drugs, etc.). 3) Interference in our voting and control of our electrical grids by foreign and terrorist cybercrime.

What legacy has departing Congressman Mark Meadows left for WNC, and how would you build on it? I am a native of wonderful WNC and own a home and pay taxes in Rutherford County, so I know of his great service to the people of the district. He also has been a firm conservative and a strong supporter of President Trump’s conservative agenda. I would also continue to support Trump’s agenda and his attempts to economically redevelop a large middle class — and to preserve Social Security and Medicare programs in every way possible.

Where, if at all, do you find common ground with Democrats? Some environmental issues such as clean, safe water (the best way to deal with cancer is prevention!) and no oil drilling on our N.C. coast; drug-related issues (prevent legalization of marijuana, etc); and foreign policy, especially nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents don’t, and what makes you likely to win in November? My diverse problem-solving and work experience as a former nuclear engineer (N.C. State) and past 40 years as a physician cancer specialist/scientist at major university hospitals (University of Wisconsin, MD Anderson and East Carolina University). I have also worked as the medical director of a U.S. Navy nuclear defense lab and recently as director of a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear emergency response program, training government employees in medical response to nuclear radiation exposure in 25 countries.

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