local elections matter 2020

By Carey Phillips


A runoff election is set for May 12 to determine the Republican nominee for the 11th Congressional seat.

Linda Bennett of Haywood County finished first among 12 candidates in the March 3 primary with 20,606 votes (22.72 percent) across the district. Madison Cawthorn of Henderson County placed second with 18,481 votes (20.38 percent).

Since Bennett did not reach the 30 percent threshold to avoid a runoff, Cawthorn requested a second primary.

Results from March 3 became official Friday following the vote canvass by the 100 county boards of election across the state.

Absentee ballot requests are already being accepted for the runoff, and one-stop voting will begin April 23.

The winner will face Democrat Moe Davis of Buncombe County. Davis received 52,983 votes districtwide (47.33 percent). Gina Collias was second among the five candidates with 25,387 votes (22.68 percent).

Congressman Mark Meadows, who was serving his fourth term, announced shortly before the filing deadline in December that he would not seek re-election. Meadows resigned last month after he was chosen by President Donald Trump to be White House chief of staff.

It’s unclear whether a special election will be held to fill the remainder of Meadows’ term, which expires in early January. That decision is up to Gov. Roy Cooper.

In Jackson County, outgoing state Sen. Jim Davis of Macon County was the GOP leader with 1,207 votes (36.34 percent). Bennett was second with 763 votes (22.98 percent), and Cawthorn was third with 371 votes (11.71 percent).

Davis finished third in the district, about 1,000 votes behind Cawthorn.

The 11th District race is the only one with a runoff statewide.

State Sen. Terry Van Duyn of Buncombe County was eligible to call for a second primary in the Democratic race for lieutenant governor. However, she declined to do so, making State Rep. Yvonne Holley of Wake County the nominee. Holley received 26.58 of the statewide vote to Van Duyn’s 20.45 percent.

While the canvass produced no changes in the outcome of local races, it did change who carried Jackson County in the Democratic presidential primary. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders edged former Vice President Joe Biden by the narrowest of margins here – one vote. Sanders had 1,868 votes locally to Biden’s 1,867. Unofficial returns on election night had Biden on top by two votes. Biden was the winner statewide.

In a contested non-partisan race for the District 1 Board of Education seat, incumbent Elizabeth Cooper had 5,658 votes (66.62 percent) to 2,774 (32.66 percent) for Shane Danner. The primary serves as the general election for school board seats, so Cooper will be in office another term.

In an uncontested school board race from District 3, incumbent Wes Jamison had 7,923 votes.

The canvass confirmed Susan Bogardus as the Democratic nominee for the District 3 seat on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. She had 2,288 votes (41.10 percent) to 1,889 (34.76) for Cody Lewis and 1,258 (23.15 percent) for Brad Stillwell.

Bogardus will face Republican Tom Stribling in November.

That seat is being vacated by Ron Mau, who made an unsuccessful attempt for the State House District 119 seat. Former State Rep. Mike Clampitt defeated Mau 4,218 (61.63 percent) to 2,626 (38.37 percent) in the Republican primary.

In Jackson County, Clampitt received 1,720 votes (51.95 percent) to Mau’s 1,591 votes (48.05 percent).

Clampitt, who is from Swain County, will face incumbent Democrat Joe Sam Queen of Haywood County in November. This will be the fifth straight time the two have squared off, with Queen winning three of the previous four matchups.