Thanks to the N.C. General Assembly’s redrawing of state Senate districts, some residents of Buncombe County have a new incumbent senator in 2022. District 46, home to six-term Republican Sen. Warren Daniel of Morganton in Burke County, will swap Avery and Caldwell counties for McDowell and the eastern half of Buncombe.
Daniel’s constituency now includes many Buncombe voters currently represented by Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards of District 48, as well as a lesser number represented by Democratic Sen. Julie Mayfield of District 49. The new District 46 is regarded as safe Republican territory by the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Partisan Index.
But the new lines do open Daniel, who didn’t have a primary opponent in 2018, to a challenge by fellow Republican Mark Crawford of Black Mountain. Crawford, who briefly served in the state House two decades ago when appointed to fill an unexpired term, has since run unsuccessfully for offices including state superintendent of public instruction, Buncombe County Board of Education and state House.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Billy Martin of Marion in the November general election.
The name of each candidate is linked to their responses in the post:
Website: No website; email CrawfordForSPI@gmail.com
Occupation: Teacher and administrator
Previous candidacy or offices held: Former N.C. House member
Key endorsements: No major groups (e.g., SEANC, FOP, GRNC, GOA, etc.) have yet endorsed before the primary, as far as I am aware, but these are among past endorsements I’ve received in prior campaigns.
Amount of money raised: Already received and/or promised commitments (pending primary outcome) of a little over $51K — less if primary is not won.
Top three donors: Did not answer.
What would you bring to the General Assembly that other candidates don’t? As far as I know, no other candidate can bring to the General Assembly a background that includes prior service in the legislature, military and combat experience, parts or all of more than 25 academic years in classroom instruction, 25 seasons as a coach in our public schools and extensive small-business experience.
What do you see as the greatest specific need for your district compared to the rest of Western North Carolina, and how would you propose meeting it? The greatest specific needs for my district are no different than those of all Western North Carolina: getting our kids back up to speed in the classrooms after the pandemic closures and isolation of remote learning; fighting an ongoing opioid scourge; and, in so many cases, just earning affordable living wages. My past legislative experience on committees dealing with all these issues will aid me in introducing needed legislation.
What role should state government play in managing the affairs of WNC? The role of the state government in managing the affairs of Western North Carolina should be limited strictly to what is encompassed in our state’s constitution — nothing more, nothing less.
What one statewide issue will you prioritize on reaching the GA, and what specific actions will you take to drive change on it? Before I left the legislature during my stint in the N.C. House of Representatives, I had drafted several bills pertaining to health and human services, the well-being of our elderly and the environment. The politics of being in the minority party at that time precluded my submission of several of these bills, and I would like to reintroduce them.
Where, if at all, do you find common ground with members of other political parties? Where I find common ground with members of other political parties is the same way I functioned when I served previously. I was always willing and able not only to easily communicate and exchange ideas “across the aisle” with many members of the other party, but I was also willing to seek counsel when it was appropriate.
Previous candidacy or offices held: Current member of N.C. Senate
Key endorsements: Former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Commissioner of Labor Josh Dobson, “A” rating by the NRA, N.C. State Troopers Association (2020), Sen. Chuck Edwards
Amount of money raised: This information is publicly available through the N.C. Board of Elections.
Top three donors: This information is publicly available through the N.C. Board of Elections.
What would you bring to the General Assembly that other candidates don’t? I have over 10 years of experience representing the people of WNC and solving the problems they care about. I have a proven track record of reducing taxes on our citizens (especially low- to middle-income taxpayers) so that families and small businesses can keep more of their hard-earned income. I have worked with my colleagues to bring key funding to WNC to improve our schools and state parks, including a new WNC School of Science and Mathematics in Morganton.
What do you see as the greatest specific need for your district compared to the rest of Western North Carolina, and how would you propose meeting it? As we have emerged from the pandemic, one issue that stands out is the need for workforce development. Businesses across all sectors are having difficulty finding skilled employees and retaining them. We need to continue to look for ways to encourage young people to find a job skill or trade that interests them and to train them for those job sectors, both in high school and at the community college and college levels.
What role should state government play in managing the affairs of WNC? State government should stay within its constitutional boundaries and focus on key areas like education, workforce development, transportation, broadband and other forms of infrastructure, the court system and public safety. State government should not “manage” the affairs of WNC; local governments are elected to do that. State government plays a key role in facilitating the success of local governments and should continue to partner with local elected officials.
What one statewide issue will you prioritize on reaching the GA, and what specific actions will you take to drive change on it? This is a difficult question, because there are many areas of need across our state. I will continue to advocate for policies that protect the lives of the unborn, protect our Second Amendment rights and provide for secure elections, Unfortunately, we are now also seeing efforts to limit free speech through censorship by mammoth technology companies, and that is one key area that the General Assembly should address in the First Amendment policy space.
Where, if at all, do you find common ground with members of other political parties? Since 2011, I have worked with many of my colleagues on a variety of topics, most notably election security, voter ID, criminal justice reform and the WNC School of Science and Mathematics.