After initially declaring he would run against Rep. Heath Shuler as an independent candidate, Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell has again changed course. Campaign materials released on his website yesterday revealed he will run against Shuler in the Democratic primary, and an announcement this morning made it official.
“Cecil Bothwell, who announced his congressional bid on March 27, has decided to enter the 2012 Democratic primary,” Bothwell’s press release reads. “I originally believed that the best way to address issues too long ignored, and to challenge the corporate power over the national parties was to run as an independent.”
However, the statement continues, he changed his mind.
“But I’ve heard from hundreds of people, from WNC to Washington, DC, who believe the most likely path to success is up the middle instead of trying for an end-run. Groups are smarter than individuals, and I’m following advice gleaned from a wide network of friends and supporters.”
The announcement adds that “Bothwell believes that his platform positions span the political spectrum and will find wide appeal.” Those positions include ending the drug war, devaluing the dollar, slashing military spending, ending corporate personhood and renegotiating or scrapping trade deals.
Bothwell would have faced some heavy obstacles getting on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. Under North Carolina law, he would need a petition with signatures from 4 percent of the congressional district’s registered voters.
Bothwell’s decision to run in the Democratic primary marks the latest change for the Council member’s electoral plans. On March 24, Bothwell said he would run for Democratic Party Chair which, as a non-partisan officeholder, he was allowed to do. But the next day, Bothwell withdrew from the race, saying he intended to run in a Democratic primary in 2012 (at the time, he didn’t specify which one).
Yet two days later, Bothwell announced he would run against Shuler, but as an independent. Shortly after that announcement, Bothwell told Xpress that due to Shuler’s level of funding, he believed he stood a better chance as an independent, and that his petition organizers would build a useful base for the campaign.
Yesterday, Bothwell’s website unveiled a new poster, noting in the top right corner, underlined, his status as a Democrat. This morning, his announcement verified that he has returned to his original plan of running in the Democratic primary.
— David Forbes, senior news reporter