The planned retirements of Reps. John Ager, Susan Fisher and Brian Turner — all three multi-term Democratic members of the N.C. House from Buncombe County — mean the county’s state-level representation is set for a big shift in the upcoming election.
As of Oct. 27, over 3.4 million votes had been cast across the state through mail-in and in-person early voting, according to the nonprofit Civitas Institute’s VoteTracker. Those watching the election say they haven’t yet seen anything out of the ordinary thus far — but they’re leaving as little as possible to chance.
Many Republican candidates have continued to build voter support through traditional in-person campaign events such as rallies and fundraising concerts. In contrast, Democrats have largely relied on virtual efforts such as phone banking or Zoom calls, eschewing big events out of concern they might encourage spread of the coronavirus.
Townsend cited the impact of COVID-19 on her family’s health and finances as one reason for dropping out of the race. She also listed “the current state of Asheville and the role [she] would play in the continual perpetuation of systemic harm” were she elected to Council.
“We used to talk about presidents and members of Congress having permanent campaigns, meaning they never really stop campaigning, and I think the same thing has now trickled down to the state level,” says Chris Cooper, head of Western Carolina University’s Political Science and Public Affairs Department.
Politicos of all stripes have begun gearing up for a 2020 election that looks to be a broad moment of opportunity. In Asheville, ballots will include offices from president on down to City Council. Experienced campaign runners and elected officials are teaming up to try to recruit new candidates or train and encourage those already considering a run.
Robert Pressley, incumbent Buncombe County commissioner for District 3, was the only Republican to win a county race in the hotly contested 2018 midterms. Buncombe County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rose said the party’s unprecedented midterm voter outreach had helped propel Democratic candidates to wins in nearly all local contests.
Watch this space for the latest election results and commentary from the Mountain Xpress news team. The post will be updated regularly throughout the evening.
Carl Mumpower, chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party, encourages voters to support the six amendments. In contrast, both Democratic and Green party leaders aim to “nix all six,” while the Libertarians support only a lower constitutional cap on state income taxes.