Matt Coffay plans in 2018 to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows.


Exactly. Even spell check doesn’t recognize Coffay (pronounced French like). My computer keeps autocorrecting to “coffee.”

The Asheville resident’s announcement on Sunday thrilled the region’s progressives … and, I suspect, its conservatives. Barring some huge scandal involving our congressman, I’d put the new candidate’s chances where Hillary Clinton’s would be if she were to again seek the Democrat presidential nomination.

In a phone interview, the 30-year-old Bernie Sanders acolyte came across as intelligent, well-intentioned and touchingly naive. He’s a living, breathing example of the train wreck that is today’s Democratic Party, a fractured beast whose most galvanizing leader – Sanders – is not even a Democrat.

Coffay is, but only since “yesterday” and largely as a matter of convenience. He said it’s politically more advantageous to register with the party than campaign unaffiliated.

“I am not running as a Democrat. I’m running to represent working class people,” he told me.

Dude, if you’re holding your nose to associate with mainstream party members, then perhaps you should get off their bus.

Coffay does not live in District 11. This makes him a not-really-a-Democrat and a not-resident challenging a nationally known, politically shrewd, three-term congressman.

Gee, who do you think might win?

Federal law allows people to run for office within their home state in the district of their choosing.

Coffay lives in District 10. Six years ago, N.C. Republican lawmakers carved out of District 11 a vast clump of commie pinko Ashevillians, dumping them into that GOP stronghold, District 10. This gerrymandering neutered the once-competitive District 11.

Diabolical, yes. But clever, you’ve got to admit.

Remember the Saturday Night Live skit when Tina Fey, playing Sarah Palin, touted foreign-policy acumen by noting she could see Russia from her home? I got a Palin-like response from Coffay, who emphasized he lives “right there at” the district line. He said he plans to move to District 11.

Dude, it doesn’t matter. You can move to this district if you like, but an ocean of difference exists between you and your would-be constituents.

District 11 is one of the most conservative land masses on the planet. It’s 91 percent white, 56 percent rural and 99.99999 percent man-bun free. And, you guessed it – gasp – there are online photos indicating Coffay once sported a man bun.

The candidate’s scheme for unseating Meadows is to attract unaffiliated voters, Democrats and crossover Republicans.

I hate to burst the Bernie-inspired balloon, but that is nuttier than nutter butter. He’ll be lucky to get mainstream Democrat votes; because, most likely, a more moderate true-blue candidate will enter the race.

Coffay is a former market farmer who grew up in north Georgia, in Blue Ridge. He told me he understands working-class people in ways Meadows cannot. That’s likely true. The congressman is a mountain man by way of Florida. He sold his Cashiers home for more than $2 million when he moved to Biltmore Park.

Meadows is the conservative conservatives’ darling, however. He’s chairman of the Freedom Caucus, a group once marginalized that now shapes policy. He’s the man who told President Trump “no” during Republican bickering over Obamacare.

Yes, District 11 Republicans do back Trump. But, like it or not, Meadows showed backbone in holding steadfast to his promises. That’s a trait guaranteed to win votes in District 11.

Quintin Ellison is editor of The Sylva Herald.