Snow, a retired judge who campaigned on his experience and his first-term achievements, said he was pleased with the confidence voters showed in his abilities.
“I am really pleased. It looks like we’re going to win about 60 to 40 percent. I’m looking forward to going back to Raleigh and working for the folks in the district,” said Snow.
“It was hard fought, and we spent a lot of money. I regret that we had to spend so much money, but I feel like I got my word out to the people. They knew I worked hard and I believe my experience really made the difference. People saw that my experience far outweighed my opponents,” said the victor.
Highlands-based Republican candidate McKim enlisted his extended family to solicit votes at the polls. His brother-in-law — in town all the way from Texas — stood wrapped in a khaki trench coat under a broken umbrella outside the Macon County Courthouse Tuesday, shaking hands with voters and handing out campaign information.
While both candidates campaigned hard, the race for the 50th Senate seat was not the prime motivating factor for most voters. In interviews throughout the district at the polls, most voters cited the Charles Taylor/Heath Shuler race as the one most important to them.
Dawn Rose, 52, of Bryson City, voted a straight Democratic ticket even though she is Republican. She said she was angry with Republicans and wanted “to send a message.”
But there were many who went to the polls with a very positive view of Snow.
“I thought he was a fair judge,” said Virginia Etchison, 61, of Whittier.
Rebecca Daily, 28, of Bryson City, also said she remembered Snow from his days as a judge.
“I liked him as a judge when I was an intern for REACH,” she said.
Twidge Welch, 64, of Cherokee, said Snow isn’t like most politicians.
“I think he’s honest,” said Welch, who credited Snow’s past with helping him move through the ranks quickly while just a freshman legislator.
“Since he was a judge, I’m sure he had some attention before he went down there,” she said.
Another factor that probably worked against McKim was the fact that he has not lived in the mountains very long. In a region that has long had a distrust of outsiders, that was likely difficult to overcome.
“I see him as a newcomer,” said Marvin Cooper, 47, of Whittier, who said he voted for Snow.
Despite losing, McKim did garner 28,903 votes, and he stayed close to Snow in several counties. His campaign themes resonated with many voters. One of those was his criticism of Snow’s support for the state lottery.
“The one thing that really turned me off about Snow is that he voted for the lottery, and that was the deciding vote,” said Tim Evans, 42, of Whittier, referring to the fact that the lottery passed by just one vote in the Senate.
This is Snow’s second victory in the 50th Senate District. Two years ago he narrowly defeated long-time incumbent Bob Carpenter, R-Franklin, by a 34,446 to 33,479 margin.
“We won in counties we did not win in before, so I’m proud of that,” said Snow. “People know I work across the aisle with Republicans to do what’s best for the people in the district,” said Snow.