Representative Brian Turner looks to be heading back to Raleigh for a second term. The Democratic incumbent for House District 116 is the presumptive winner of November’s election since the Republican Party did not file a candidate by the Aug. 25 deadline. Kay Olsen, Turner’s original opponent, dropped out of the race, citing business reasons.
Nathan West, chair of the Buncombe County GOP said they couldn’t find anyone to replace her. “We wish we could have had someone to run against Turner because Buncombe County needs effective leadership in Raleigh. It’s unfortunate,” he said.
Turner defeated Republican incumbent Tim Moffitt in 2014. Upon learning he won’t have an official opponent, Turner told Xpress, “It’s a pleasant surprise, but it really won’t change anything I’m doing in my role as a representative. Even without an opponent, I’m going to be active and engage with the community.”
Looking ahead to his presumptive second term, Turner said he wants to continue a bipartisan approach to work on issues like public education, environmental protection and strengthening the local economy. “We need to bring back some good jobs and also focus on the existing businesses,” he said. “I’m going to continue to work in the way I have in the past. I’m going to have town hall meetings and continue to focus on constituent services.”
Back in 2014, Turner upset Moffitt’s bid for a third term by fewer than 1,000 votes. Turner says he appreciates the chance to represent the traditionally Republican district. “I think that folks are looking for someone who’s going to go to Raleigh and represent them and fight for what’s right for our community. I don’t think party affiliation matters as much as, ‘Are you truly representing the people, or do you have some other agenda?’ My goal is to be in Raleigh focused on the people of my district,” he said.
Turner isn’t the only Buncombe County incumbent running unopposed. Representative Susan Fisher of District 114 (that covers most of Asheville) is also considered the presumptive winner. District 115, the county’s only other house district, will feature Democrat incumbent John Ager facing off against Republican Frank Moretz.