Smathers aims for state’s second-highest political job

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

As mayor of Canton, Pat Smathers has overcome his fair share of obstacles — most notably the floods that devastated this Haywood County community in 2004. Now, Smathers is gearing up to face perhaps the biggest challenge of his career — attempting to become the first Western North Carolinian in more than three decades to win a high-level state office.

Taylor makes it official: He’s not running

After months of keeping his fellow Western North Carolina Republicans guessing, former U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) has decided not to run for the seat he lost to Democratic rookie Heath Shuler in the 2006 elections.

Taylor made the announcement to 1,000 guests at his annual holiday dinner at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, where presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was the featured speaker.

Taylor’s reluctance to announce his decision in the last months sparked frustration among his party and prompted the Henderson County Republican Men’s Club to ask Taylor to make up his mind. Efforts at pushing Taylor toward a decision failed, and an anticipated Labor Day announcement never materialized.

Three other Republicans have already announced their intentions to seek their party’s nomination to run against Shuler in 2008: Macon County attorney John Armor, Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower, and former Henderson County GOP Chair Spence Campbell.

Profiles of those candidates are available online in the Smoky Mountain News archives here.

— By Julia Merchant

The right too often hides behind the children

On a political talk show recently, a well-known Republican political consultant spent a lot of time attacking public schools in North Carolina and the people who run them. No surprise there.

Bush’s obstinance is a rare opportunity

With President Bush’s veto of the Democrats’ bill to set a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, the stage is now set for a showdown. Lacking the votes for an override, will the Democrats now roll over and risk losing the momentum they have been building since before the mid-term elections last year, or will they challenge Bush by threatening to cut off further funding for a war that most Americans — according to the polls — no longer support?

The honeymoon ends ... now

In the aftermath of last week’s election, we’ve seen a seemingly endless parade of politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle making wild claims about just what it all means, the pasting of the Republicans by the Democrats.

The school board, economics and political insight

By the time we hit the streets with this edition and this column is read, the election that has been dominating the news will be behind us. Talking heads and columnists will be digesting and spinning the results, givingtheir take on what it all means. As of this writing, though, we don’t know who will win.

The debate logjam: Politically calculated, popularly mistaken

Democratic congressional candidate Heath Shuler’s decision to back away from a debate with Rep. Charles Taylor sent shockwaves through the mountains this past weekend. Politicos, however, say Shuler’s decision is hardly surprising given his lead in the polls, but we feel strongly it was a poor choice to deny voters the opportunity to hear both candidates debate the issues from the same stage.

Need negative ad material? We’ve got it

Heath Shuler says he will bring integrity and accountability to Washington? Ha! We have here in our satchel 76 examples of Shuler’s low character and corrupt tendencies. Space and decorum prevent us from elaborating fully on every example, but we here at the Hail Mary Headquarters to Re-elect Charles Taylor felt it was vital to make you, the unsuspecting voter, aware of at least some of Shuler’s transgressions.

Reflections on May 2 – what’s really going on?

By Lee Shelton

Those who stated that Haywood County Commission Chairman Mark Swanger, who lost in last week’s primary election, was “over managing” or interfering are wrong. He was just doing the job that he was elected to do by the public and the majority of the board.

Political factions help define Haywood race

Two well-defined political factions emerged early in the Haywood County commissioners primary and have only grown stronger in the countdown to election day on May 2.

On one side is the county commissioner chairman Mark Swanger, who is running for re-election, and Bill Upton, former school superintendent. One the other side is Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick, also running for re-election, Bill Noland, a former commissioner who lost re-election two years ago, and Skeeter Curtis, a state insurance department worker from Canton.

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