Buncombe stays blue


By the time Buncombe County Democratic Party Chair Charles Carter took the stage at the Renaissance hotel last night to brandish a copy of the Asheville Citizen-Times for a “Dewey defeats Truman”-style moment, it was clear that the county had defied the national trend, with local Democrats in most cases winning handily over their GOP rivals.

Pointing to a headline that declared “Buncombe GOP Voters Make Gains,” Carter savored the moment.

“Really?” he said. “Let’s remember this. Let’s remember that our volunteers came out and worked hard to make sure this didn’t happen. Buncombe stayed blue!”

And indeed, with the exception of Tim Moffitt taking the 116th state House district from Rep. Jane Whilden and GOP State Sen. Tom Apodaca beating off a challenge from Chris Dixon, the Democrats had a victorious night locally. Rep. Susan Fisher — who opened the event with a prayer declaring that “it’s been a long, difficult, angry, fear-filled race” —  and newly appointed Rep. Patsy Keever trounced John Carroll and Mark Crawford, respectively, by more than 10 percentage points. State Sen. Martin Nesbitt, who decided to spend the night in Raleigh, completed the local legislature victories, stomping RL Clark.

Before Carter, Sheriff Van Duncan had taken the stage, declaring his enthusiasm for “four more years.” Voter counts showed that he’d crushed challenger Dickie Green.

“There were a lot of non-issues in this campaign,” Fisher remarked later. “I think the voters saw through those and chose to make it about real issues like education and jobs.”

The crowd was eagerly awaiting the night’s big star —  Rep. Heath Shuler — with chants of “Heath! Heath! Heath!” Taking the stage, Shuler thanked the trifecta of his family (who joined him on stage), his volunteers and Jesus for securing a third term in Congress. The incumbent Democrat pulled out a nine-point victory over Hendersonville businessman Jeff Miller; an impressive feat considering that Shuler was running in a Republican-leaning district in a strong year for the GOP.

“Unbelievable!” he shouted, to raucuous applause. “We’ll keep fighting hard for you; I know our support crosses party lines.”

But Shuler felt compelled to add that “it’s a tough night, I’m seeing a lot of friends leave Congress — good, quality people — and I’ll miss them, but I know they’ll be back.”

Shuler told Xpress that it’s time to “put America first… I’m prepared to work across party lines, but I don’t want to see the Republicans put out legislation that’s political. When they do, I’ll call them out on it.”

Which “political” legislation? Shuler said repealing healthcare reform legislation (something he opposes despite voting against the original bill) was one example, though given the presidential veto, a possibility he finds unlikely.

Organization was the watchword for the evening, with everyone from Carter to Shuler to Fisher attributing Buncombe’s trend-defying election results to motivated volunteers and a big get-out-the-vote effort. Asheville’s progressive leaders rallied hard behind Shuler in the final months of the election, shoring up what had been downright anemic support for the conservative Blue Dog among more left-leaning Democrats, helping to turn what had once been considered a close race into a rout, something Shuler recognized when he embraced Lindsey Simerly, the Asheville activist who ran his volunteer operation, onstage.

Nonetheless, despite local triumph, nationally, Democrats face a difficult landscape. As the evening wore on, news emerged that the Blue Dog caucus in Congress had been decimated, losing over half its numbers, shrinking from 54 to 26 members. At the state level, Republicans narrowly took control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time since the 19th century. By the time Fisher and her supporters left for a beer at Pack’s Tavern, the sense of victory was tempered by the reality of the grueling political battles that lie ahead.

“I’m trying to be realistic about what to expect in the new house, the new senate. It will be pretty closely divided, it will be tough. It’s really going to be incumbent upon us to try to establish a cooperative coalition to get things done,” said Fisher.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter

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23 thoughts on “Buncombe stays blue

  1. J

    Trend defying?

    The democrats are being insincere. They seem to think that their 30,000 voter registration advantage was in jeopardy.

    Aside from Medford and Nathan Ramsey, the dems have enjoyed a pretty much life long control of all things Buncombe. Oh sure, they have Shuler now – nothing like Lindsey Simerly embracing a traditional marriage, pro-life, anti-tax, anti-gays in the military, anti-ObamaCare, Congressman. That’s progress if I’ve ever seen it – or partisanship.

    In other words, the status quo prevailed, so we celebrated. That’s funny.

  2. Dionysis

    “local Democrats in most cases winning handily over their GOP rivals.”

    Give credit where it’s due: without Chad Nesbitt, the results may well have been different.

  3. J

    Here are two great ScruHoo posts, written by Shuler backer Gordon Smith, that capture the beauty of Lindsey Simerly embracing Heath Shuler as a symbol of all the progress she’s worked for:

    “Why Does Heath Shuler Hate Gay People”
    http://scrutinyhooligans.us/category/local/heath-shuler/page/21/

    Young lesbian hooligan is getting married this weekend!
    scrutinyhooligans.us/2008/06/05/hb-2720-tell-them-if-you-like-it/

  4. Jake Quinn

    Make no mistake about it, J, Lindsey and dozens of others busted their butts for Democrats this year, and that is why Democrats did well in Buncombe.

    Your sour grapes make a bad whine.

  5. reasonable

    Anyone who is familiar with G Smith, the Alinsky-ite that he is, will remember all the BS he he posted, fostered and abetted under the SruHoo aegis. Screw who? If you don’t know shame on you. If you DO know then work like me to get the SOB out of government. Worse Than Olbermann (or a mile long slate of “tingly-legged” twits).

  6. J

    Oh Jake,

    You’re right, you did work hard. If you hadn’t worked as hard, you might have only won your races 55-45, and Whilden might have lost by a larger margin. My whole point is that there are a lot of democrats in the county, a lot more than there are republican. I fail to see, besides Whilden, where any of your races could really have been in danger.

    But again, congrats on your success of electing representatives that don’t believe in the rights of gay people to get married. I guess I’m wrong, but I thought that was one of the reasons why it was so crucial to unseat Rep. Taylor.

    My whole point in reference to Gordon is that he’s 100% pure partisan. Not principled, just partisan.

  7. J

    Doug Gibson agrees with me over at “Time to Huddle” at ScruHoo:

    “If Republicans lost this year in Buncombe, don’t blame the Chad. I’m not even sure you can blame the Buncombe Democratic Party (though they certainly helped Elaine Marshall). First blame demographics – Buncombe is a blue county that’s trending bluer, and that’s unlikely to change. Also, when it comes to the state legislature, having safe districts helps incumbents enormously (and you can thank Wilma Sherrill and Tom Apodaca for that as much as anyone else).”

    Maybe he’s just a whiner too?

    This is cannon fodder that just keeps on giving.

    “I’ll huddle with social justice leaders to determine what to do if anti-marriage forces determine that bigotry ought to be enshrined in a constitutional amendment.” – G. Smith

    While I agree with Gordon that there shouldn’t be a constitutional amendment, I think it’s funning he’s already planning against the anti-marriage forces (read:bigots) that he just helped elect.

  8. anonymous

    I love it all. Hey in case you haven’t noticed, the Fed just bought 600,000,000 billion of the debt of this nation. It’s printing its own money and turning around and buying the debt making the dollar about as valuable as a Kleenex.

    I do suggest progressives realize that big labor, unreal environmental regulations and quotas all have a hand in the destruction of the US economy. And while they argue over all this fluff, China and India are taking over in the world with their respective manufacturing based economies.

    They both love progressives BTW because they see what bumbling idiots they really are. Don’t get me wrong here because the Cons are just as inept at enacting real change but do take these words to heart; there are only a few more election cycles left to enact real change before the middle class populace takes action and it’s not going to be at the ballot box.

  9. dpewen

    again unreasonable posting his typical boo hoo stuff! I know Gordon and have met you … Gordon wins and your people will not get rid of him. Again, why do you believe you are reasonable? This is a liberal city … don’t you get that?

  10. Dionysis

    “…there are only a few more election cycles left to enact real change before the middle class populace takes action and it’s not going to be at the ballot box.”

    Well, this threatened “action” best not wait a “few more election cycles” or there won’t be any middle class left.

    “…the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.”

    http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/6389492-the-us-middle-class-is-shrinking-michael-snyder

  11. Ken Hanke

    Ken: “There’s no fool like an old fool.”

    This from a guy whose screen name is an essay in double-speak — or unintentional irony.

    By the way — not that I personally mind, considering the source — where the Personal Attack Moderation Police on this?

  12. dpewen

    yea, Don does not use his real name … and he is calling you a fool Ken? He is a real piece of work. A resonable person who is totally misguided perhaps?

  13. dpewen

    Toliet paper would work better for Don .. that is where his reasonable voice comes from!!

  14. reasonable

    Y’all have a nice week and a half. We’re off to ride our bikes where there’s a LOT of stone crab claws. See ya when we get back!

  15. reasonable

    doug, Ken doesn’t need your help. He knows exactly my reference from an earlier discussion centered on an old Churchill quote. You know the one about if one isn’t a liberal at 20 they have no heart and if they’re not conservative at 40 they have no brain.

    I was once a fairly radical, progressive dude in my youth, collegiate and early military days. But a funny thing happened on the way to personal, financial and spiritual success. Through reasonable personal choices in finance, work, education and romance, I found myself quite well-off on all fronts. Then, ever increasing demands from all levels of government to redistribute my fairly and hard-earned largess to non-producers, most of whom are that way because of unreasonable personal choices (my opinion), made me question the right of the government to socialize things not allowed for in the Constitution. Things like health care, social security, and the Great Society fiasco that hasn’t changed today’s poverty levels from before it was enacted. We’re now on our third generation of entitlement users and abusers.

    Again, Ken can speak for himself, Doug, and would probably prefer it that way.

    That’s it, as I said earlier, for the next week and a half so really do have fun without me. I know we will be sublimely happy pedaling the Keys, having a cocktail or two, eating luscious seafood and enjoying the fruits of success achieved through reasonable choices, hard work and their positive consequenses.

    More folks should give it a shot.

  16. LOKEL

    With the GOP “in charge” I guess there is no hope for any change since they remain the party of NO.

    Let’s wait 2 years and see how this Country is doing.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Please keep this discussion civil, y’all.

    I think “Reasonable” pretty much killed that chance.

  18. dpewen

    Wow reasonable really thinks he is right. He blasts people and then takes off … troll.
    What goes around comes around … since you like old fart quoes

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