The campaign trail: A look at what happened this week in local politics

Soon after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate last weekend, Western North Carolina congressional candidates were swept in to a raging national debate over the federal budget and entitlement program cuts.

At an Aug. 14 event billed as her general election kickoff, 10th District Democrat Patsy Keever sought to portray her Republican opponent, incumbent Rep. Patrick McHenry, as an extremist in the mold of Ryan.

McHenry returned fire by aiming to bind Keever to Democratic President Barack Obama and “the most extreme” parts of his agenda.

In their dueling campaign statements, the two also debated their positions on Social Security and Medicare, echoing the arguments of their respective national party leaders.

As Keever, an Asheville resident, was launching her fall campaign, McHenry came up the mountain from his home in Cherryville to attend an event with Republican Statehouse candidate Nathan Ramsey in Black Mountain. He’ll be back in the Asheville area on Aug. 23 for a tour of local breweries.

McHenry also recently earned the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business and was named one of the most influential people in business crowd funding by Forbes Magazine.

Meanwhile, Keever continued hammering him over his support for Ryan’s budget proposals at an Aug. 17 protest in front of Romney’s local campaign office.

In the 11th District, which no longer includes much of Asheville, Democrat Hayden Rogers and Republican Mark Meadows also found themselves in the throes of the national debate over Ryan and entitlement cuts. Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Campaign Committee released statements slamming each others’ candidate over Medicare. Rogers and Meadows also both shared the same stage for the first time since the primary election on Aug. 17, speaking to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association in Hendersonville. according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

City Council puts water system referendum on ballot; local tea party group garners national attention and more

In other developments, Asheville City Council voted unanimously to put a referendum on the sale of the city’s water system on the Nov. 6 ballot.

However, the vote won’t legally bind the North Carolina General Assembly from taking action on the matter. And on the day of the move by city council, Republican Statehouse Rep. Tim Moffitt’s website featured an excerpt from a report by the UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Government asserting that “local governments exist by legislative benevolence.” The post sparked lots of speculation over Moffitt’s intentions and the post’s meaning on the liberal Scrutiny Hooligans blog. The Progressive Pulse also posted a blog questioning if the the state lawmaker is sending a threat to the city of Asheville.

Meanwhile, a new parody of Moffitt’s website also sprouted up. The freshman legislator responded to the satirical site Aug. 16 via Twitter, saying he “Loved it!” and thanking “whoever wrote it.”

Moffitt is holding a town hall event in Enka later today, Aug. 18. He faces a challenge this year from Democrat Jane Whilden.

And in other political news the Asheville Tea Party garnered national attention for a ‘Machine Gun Social’ fundraiser event planned for Sept. 29. A wide range of major outlets picked up the story, including USA Today and the Huffington Post. Asheville Tea Party chair Jane Bilello seemed happy about the development, sending out an email touting the coverage and urging members to check it out. However, she also sought to address some of the questions raised in the Huffington Post article with a follow-up response that argued for gun ownership rights.

Meanwhile, Mountain Xpress is seeking reader suggestions for questions to ask this year’s candidates for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, N.C. General Assembly and U.S. Congress. Please let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to ask the candidates as we conduct interviews and put together our election guide questionnaire by posting them here.


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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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10 thoughts on “The campaign trail: A look at what happened this week in local politics

  1. bsummers

    I would ask all candidates if they believe that the City of Asheville should be abolished and all services folded under County control. It’s clear to me that that’s what NC Rep. Moffitt believes, and we’ll wish later that we had put all candidates on the record before the election.

  2. “However, the vote won’t legally bind the North Carolina General Assembly from taking action on the matter.”

    That’s rich.

    The referendum option is a gift given by the General Assembly to NC municipalities that modifies the Dillon Rule to allow cities to govern themselves somewhat more autonomously. If the City of Asheville insists on abusing that gift, the General Assembly can very well take it away.

    Will they take it away from all municipalities or narrowly craft a definition to only include Asheville? Who knows. The best case would be to only deny Asheville. A statewide reversal would bode ill for this unruly “creature of the legislature.”

    And that’s how local government works.

  3. Davyne,

    I invited progressives years ago to engage in a discussion on home rule and got no response.

    I’ve been talking about this for about eight years. Matt Mittan for almost as long ;-). Then, when the Democrat Party lost the majority in the legislature, Emmett Carney complained and declared that “the fight for home rule is on.”

    I proposed holding a public forum with experts on the subject, such as, Frayda Bluestein <>, who wrote an article on the subject for the North Carolina Law Review. I spoke with her in advance of a possible forum and she agreed to participate. The only people who are not participating are progressives.

    • James Atkinson

      Tim Peck — you don’t get buy-in from others because you are generally unpleasant, even if what you happen to be saying at any given time has merit. Occasionally it does.

      I happen to agree, for example, that a forum with Assoc. Dean Bluestein would be very useful.

      Whether North Carolina needs a formal home rule system or should continue operating as a pseudo-Dillon state remains to be seen. But step one going forward, it seems to me, is to get the underlying law straight.

      What standing do the cities and counties actually have under current law? To what extent can the state legally disrupt the workings of the municipalities? To what extent are, for instance, municipal bondholders negatively impacted by the actions the NCGA seems committed to enact?

      And so on.

      Having settled that, it should become relatively clear where the state legitimately can act, where the cities properly can defend themselves, and where citizens may step in to maintain their legal standing at whatever political subdivision necessary.

  4. D. Dial

    Are you sure it’s a monolithic group, or is it the entrenched good ole boy system that’s been operating in this state sincethe post civil war period. You know, the Dino’s, Prinos, and,Rinos, who are really out to maintain the status quo.

  5. Gordon Smith: “Whether it was unilaterally changing the way we vote and restricting our choices on County Commission, disallowing a vote of the people on the district proposal, forcefully taking the airport, or seeking to seize the water system, Rep. Moffitt hasn

  6. bsummers

    And Mr. Peck wonders why no one ever takes him up on his invitations to “discuss”. In my experience, he is never anything but insulting.

    This screed, including the laughable suggestion that if we don’t re-elect Tim Moffitt, the NCGA may be “enraged” into further punishing Asheville… hilarious.

    How much is he paying Mr. Peck, I wonder…

  7. Ascend (of Asheville)

    Count me as one Progressive wishing to discuss home rule, but before we even get to that conversation we need to talk about the completely unprecedented level of legislative bullying going on and the systematic dismantling of the city of Asheville. The citizens of Asheville have a Constitutionally protected expectation of fairness that is being trampled on here. Home rule or no home rule there is a point at which this kind of treatment goes beyond politics into a legal realm of abuse of power. Using one’s position as a supposed representative of the people to settle personal scores, reward allies and create a personal fiefdom is ethically reprehensible, politically untenable and economically risky.
    I don’t think the economic viability and civil rights of the people here should be put at risk because of one man’s ego. it would not surprise me at all if the spoof website that started up is his own invention. He’s that kind of ego maniac.

  8. Dionysis

    “I invited progressives years ago to engage in a discussion on home rule and got no response.”

    “I proposed holding a public forum with experts on the subject…”

    An progressives didn’t simply flock by the droves to this golden opportunity? How bizarre.

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