GOP congressional candidates square off for a shot at the ballot
Elections are upon us again.
Although the primary has come and gone and the general election is still months away, voters are being asked to head to the polls July 17 to weigh in once more on some of May’s tighter races. Run-off elections typically post dismally low turnout among voters.
The most high-profile race in this region is between two Republicans vying for U.S. Congress: Mark Meadows and Vance Patterson.
While the summer typically offers the average citizen a short respite from politics as campaigns slow a bit before the final fall push for votes, Meadows and Patterson have been hot on the campaign trail courting voters in hopes of claiming a spot on the ballot against Democratic candidate Hayden Rogers of Murphy for the 11th District U.S. Congressional seat. Blue Dog Democrat Heath Shuler currently holds the position but will leave politics at the end of his current term.
In the May 8 primary earlier this year, none of the eight GOP candidates running for Shuler’s old seat received the requisite 40 percent of votes. Meadows was just shy of the required number with nearly 38 percent. Meanwhile, Patterson garnered 23.6 percent of the votes, putting him in second place but keeping him in the running for the U.S. House.
Meadows, a 52-year-old resident of Cashiers, said he was disappointed that the primary did not end in May but would keep running his campaign with an eye toward November.
“We would have preferred that it would have ended in terms of the primary on May 8,” Meadows said.
Last weekend, Meadows, his family and other volunteers went door-to-door speaking with possible voters and making about 4,000 personal phones calls to residents in the district.
“We’re encouraged obviously by the response we’ve had,” Meadows said. “We are hopeful we will carry off all 15 counties.”
Meadows won the majority of votes in all but four counties in the district during the original primary.
Patterson, on the other hand, is right where he hoped to be. From the beginning, Patterson, 61-year-old resident of Morganton, was gunning for second place and a run-off election, knowing his chances of reaching the general election were much greater in the narrowed field.
“We are hoping everything is going to come together as we expected,” Patterson said.
However, he was quick to admit that the campaign process is a tiring one.
“We are still working hard, but gosh darn, we are into the summer months, and it’s difficult,” Patterson said.
With the drawn-out primary coming to a close, the Republican Party will finally have a single candidate to throw its weight behind. Leading up to the July 17, the financial and party support has been split between the two hopefuls. The Democratic Party, however, started putting its political weight and funding behind Rogers, a Blue Dog Democrat and former chief of staff to Shuler, after the polls closed on May 8.
Both Meadows and Patterson have billed themselves as conservative candidates with the right background, know-how and plans to best help the district.
Meadows admitted that their similar conservative views make it more difficult to distinguish themselves from each other but is encouraged by the broad base of support he has seen and touted his jobs plan for the district.
“That’s tough to do whenever you have someone who is running who is a conservative,” Meadows said. But, “We have a specific plan that creates jobs,” which can be viewed on his campaign website.
To show his wide range of supporters, Meadows listed a few key endorsements that he has received, including state Sen. Ralph Hise, N.C. Rep. Roger West, 10th District U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry and sheriffs from various counties within the district.
Patterson is a TEA party candidate and a businessman who has started 16 companies, including Patterson Fan Company, Iron Brew Coffee and Frenzy Tees. Patterson said his history of job creation gives him an advantage over his competition. His experience will help him bring the unemployment rate down in a matter of a few years, he said.
“I have started companies and created jobs, much more than Mark (Meadows) has,” Patterson said.
Patterson has received endorsements from former opponent Spence Campbell, Anti-Illegal Immigration “Minutemen” Founder Jim Gilchrist, and Can-Do Conservatives, a partisan disabled Americans’ advocacy organization.
If elected, Patterson said he would not become a distant Washington, D.C., representative but would still spend a lot of his time working in the district. He added that he is not interested in gaining power or being placed on specific committee in Washington, D.C.
“I will be the one working in the district,” Patterson said. “I really feel that Mark is the establishment candidate, the status quo.”
Other GOP run-offs:
• Dan Forest
• Tony Gurley
Commissioner of Insurance
• Richard Morgan
• Mike Causey
Secretary of State
• Ken Gardner
• Ed Goodwin
Superintendent of Public Instruction
• John Tedesco
• Richard Alexander
Commissioner of Labor
• Marlowe Foster
• John C. Brooks