Election results: Buncombe defies national, state trends

While national media outlets like CNN declared a “bloodbath” as Republicans gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Buncombe county stayed blue — a result that likely helped Rep. Heath Shuler keep his seat. Local Democrats won too, with the exception of incumbent Jane Whilden, who lost to Tim Moffitt.

Statewide, a different story unfolded: Republicans won a majority in the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time in about 100 years. And overall, voter turnout was modest — 2,279,901, a little less than half the registered voters in the state.

But back to shades of blue: For the 11th Congressional District seat, Shuler had been challenged by Republican and Henderson County resident Jeff Miller, who lost last night by a near 10-point margin. According to the North Carolina State Board of Election, Shuler garnered 129,762 votes to Miller’s 109,245.

Most local Democrats also won their state races:

For House district 114, Rep. Susan Fisher defeated challenger John Carroll (14,435 votes to 10,274).

Rep. Patsy Keever — appointed to serve out the last few months of Bruce Goforth’s term after defeating him in the May primary — won House seat 115 (Keever, 15,658; Mark Crawford, 12,203).

Rep. Jane Whilden lost to Republican Tim Moffitt by several thousand votes. Two years ago, he narrowly lost.

In the state senate, Democrat Martin Nesbitt defeated RL Clark by a substantial margin: 32,990 votes for Sen. Nesbitt to 22,604 for Clark.

But Nesbitt will lose his position as Speaker Pro Tem: With the Republicans winning the majority in the General Assembly, fellow Western North Carolinian Tom Apodaca will take that spot. Apodaca defeated Democratic challenger Chris Dixon for the Senate district seat 48.

In other races of note: Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan defeated challenger Dickie Green. Buncombe District Attorney Ron Moore won re-election, despite a strong showing by newcomer Bridgette Odom. Democrat Steve Cogburn returns as Clerk of Court.

In a close race for two seats for Buncombe County Soil and Water District Conservation Supervisor, incumbent Elise Israel won re-election, but challenger Chase Hubbard squeaked by incumbent Jeff Turner.

Meanwhile, in the judicial races:

Cressie Thigpen leads the count in the 13-way instant-runoff race for a Court of Appeals seat (Doug McCullough has the second-highest number of votes; final results aren’t yet known). Martha Geer defeated Dean Poirier, and Rick Elmore beat Steven Walker for the remaining Court of Appeals spots.

Alan Thornburg, who had been appointed to fill one of the Superior Court judgeships for District 28, retained his seat against Kate Dreher. Marvin Pope, meanwhile, handily defeated Heather Whitaker Goldstein for another Superior Court judge’s spot.

In District 28 judicial races, incumbent Shirley Brown won re-election to the other District 28 seat, defeating challenger John Jay Watson. Patricia Kaufman Brown won against Rhonda Moorefield. In unopposed contests, District 28 judges Rebecca Knight, Julie Keppel and Sharon Barrett all won re-election.

And finally, in the Buncombe County School races, winners were Bob Rhinehart (Enka district), Pat Bryan (Erwin), and Lisa Baldwin (Reynolds).

And the overwhelming majority of Buncombians supported a state constitutional amendement prohibiting felons from serving as sheriff.

Detailed election results are available at the State Board of Election website and Buncombe County’s.


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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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5 thoughts on “Election results: Buncombe defies national, state trends

  1. J

    I’ve seen Gordon giving himself a congratulatory pat on the back already for the democrats successes last night. Considering that democrats have a 30,000 advantage when it comes to voter registration in the county, not to mention the advantages of all incumbents, vast monetary advantages before this election even started, the help of PAC’s and 527’s in Moveon.org, DFA, OFA, Acorn, etc, I don’t think the outcomes were surprising. The level of victory claimed by Charles Carter and Gordo have me fully expecting the democrats to be jubilantly surprised when they successfully elect none other than a democrat to head their county party at their convention in the spring.

    The more interesting question is where NC is going as a whole. On one hand, Obama carried the state, we have a democratic senator, and the U.S. House delegation only suffered on democratic loss in the best showing for the GOP since 1948.

    On the flip side, the GOP added to their Gen. Assembly gains they earned in 2008, and have their first majority since 1898 in both houses. And Burr cruised to one of the easiest senate victories in this state in quite some time. I don’t think a state that is trending blue would have these last two elements – the GOP has shown state level gains in good years and bad years. This leaves two other real options -either people just really love their congressman, or gerrymandering. I suspect the latter.

    With the GOP getting to decide the new voting districts, 2012 has the potential to be rejuvenating for the GOP. If they put an end to the Democrat’s gerrymandering, and the state goes red again, several democratic U.S. House members could fall.

    What’s also interesting is that mathematically speaking, Shuler appears to have gotten decent republican crossover support – funny how Gordon, Holly, Cecil, Gantt, Brownie, and Esther have found a person to support that republicans find palatable as well.

  2. J

    “Probably the biggest prize for the GOP was the North Carolina legislature, where Democrats had used convoluted map lines to enshrine Congressional majorities and their own legislative majorities for decades. Unlike most states, North Carolina excludes the governor from the redistricting process. The three conservative Democrats who hung on this year will probably find themselves in much worse seats in the next cycle.”

  3. UnaffiliatedVoter


    Go Tim Moffitt! Go Jim Davis! Go Ralph Hise!

    While WNC/Buncombe may have lost the local opposition skirmish, the bigger picture shows that great victories were scored nationwide, except for the most important one to unseat the VILE Harry Reid in Nevada!

  4. UnaffiliatedVoter

    Lol re: Volvo Jane …that is the way she came across!

    Nationwide, 680 sitting state democrat legislators were replaced last Tuesday!

  5. James L. (Larry) Smith

    You misspelled a couple of names in this article: Patricia Kaufmann Young and Julie Kepple,

    Cecil Bothwell used to misspell Kepple’s name, and it messes you up if you google what he wrote about her by using the correct spelling.

    Despite that, he was a better reporter than he is a councilperson. He did more good for Buncombe County by digging up corruption. Now when he stares corruption in the face, he looks the other way.

    All the judges would do better jobs if they had adversaries at election time. Neither Kepple nor Young had opponents. Nor did Steven Cogburn, who is also a crook. And even though Ed Clontz was reelected, he is the very incarnation of dishonesty.

    I am shocked by what happened, although I was glad to see that Buncombe went blue when the rest of the state is still sadly red. Not even purple any more.

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