“This is fun, isn’t it”?
Such was the feeling of one Democratic voter Tuesday night, as Democratic incumbent Rep. Heath Shuler bested his Republican rival, Carl Mumpower, for the 11th District Congressional seat on a night in which Democrats racked up huge wins locally and nationally.
With 14 of 15 counties reporting late Tuesday, Shuler bested Mumpower with nearly 61 percent of the vote, compared to slightly more than 37 percent for Mumpower. Meanwhile, Libertarian candidate Keith Smith trailed far behind with just over 2 percent of the vote.
The carnage came early for Mumpower. Despite a maverick campaign that saw him fight Shuler, as well as his own party, on several key issues, Mumpower was resigned early in the evening to defeat, though he held no regrets about his unconventional campaign, in which he forsook party money and took not only Shuler but his party to task for what he saw as years of misrule.
Said Mumpower: “We said we were going to do it with a volunteer staff. No lobby money. No party money. Put principles first and not wear a mask — and we were true to all of that. So I’m proud of it. Nobody is going to see any tears of disappointment on my face. We did what we were in charge of and the rest of it is up to a higher authority, so I’m OK. I’m fine. I would not change a thing. … If I ever run again, I’d run the same way.”
While upward of 40 people packed Mumpower’s campaign headquarters to watch the returns, hundreds of the Democratic faithful packed a ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Resort to cheer on Shuler and a plethora of other Democratic candidates who would emerge victorious on a historic night in which the nation’s first African-American was elected president.
At slightly after 10 p.m., Shuler took to the microphone before the gathered throng, who roared their approval over his re-election when introduced by campaign spokesman Andrew Whalen.
“What an exciting day this is,” Shuler told the crowd. “I have to thank our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for all the many blessings bestowed upon us,” he said as his wife and two young children stood by his side.
“And I’m so excited that I have a partner in the U.S. Senate in Kay Hagan,” added Shuler, referring to Hagan’s upset win over incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. “I can’t thank you enough. And remember: this is only a beginning of a long trek. Let’s continue to work every day. … Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
(Check out the Nov. 12 edition of Xpress for a full story on Shuler’s win).
— Hal L. Millard, staff writer