The two candidates have a long history together. For nearly 30 years, Liston Ramsey, D-Madison County, and Rep. Charles Beall, D-Clyde, represented what was once known as the 52nd District. When Ramsey stepped down, Haire captured one of the district’s two seats in 1998. The following election in 2000, Carpenter took the district’s other seat. The service in office prompted Carpenter to use the phrase “re-elect” on her campaign signs in each subsequent election.
Redistricting drew a line across Haywood County and consequently in 2002 Carpenter went up against Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill, to whom she lost the election. Yet another bout of redistricting put Carpenter back in Haire’s district in 2004 for a second round. Haire won with 14,181 votes to Carpenter’s 12,707.
This Nov. 7 marked the third race between the two.
Haire, 70, won each county in the district and took his home county of Jackson by the largest margin — 2,554 votes. He has earned a reputation for his people skills, which voters like Virginia Etchison of Whitter cited at the polls as a reason for voting for him.
“Phil is a people person. You can talk to him when you see him. There he is now,” Etchison said, pointing to Haire who was standing under an umbrella at the Whittier polling place shaking hands with voters.
Donna Cormier, who was voting in the Cullowhee precinct Tuesday, echoed that sentiment.
“I’ve been very pleased with Phil Haire,” she said, explaining how he is receptive to voter concerns, even if it’s something that doesn’t agree with his personal politics.
Haire also picked up votes from the Cherokee Reservation.
“He’s been a good friend to the tribe. He’s been very vocal and supportive of tribal issues, so it is very important to keep him in office,” said Rosie McCoy of Cherokee.
Haire will return to Raleigh as part of Western North Carolina’s new Democratic majority leadership alongside Sen. John Snow, D-Murphy, Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, and Rep. Rapp.
As part of his term goals, Haire has proposed enacting a state bill regulating steep slope development along with creating a tax to support mobile home disposal similar to a white goods tax.