By Jim Buchanan
Jackson County backed GOP candidates in complete but unofficial results from Tuesday’s election.
GOP gubernatorial hopeful Dan Forest led incumbent Democratic Roy Cooper here by a narrow margin, 10,438 votes to 10,326. However, Cooper had a large enough lead statewide, 2,803,782 to 2,563,258, to be declared the winner of a second term by the Associated Press.
With an unknown number of provisional and absentee ballots yet to be processed, the races for president and U.S. Senate were too close to call.
First-term incumbent Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, led Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham statewide 2,640,379 to 2,543,672, or 48.73 percent to 46.94 percent. Incumbent GOP President Donald Trump was leading former vice-president Joe Biden by a 2,732,084 to 2,655,383 count, 49.98 percent to 48.57 percent in the state.
Trump was ahead in Jackson 11,263 to Biden’s 9,522, while Tillis tallied 10,683 votes to Cunningham’s 9,315.
The race to replace GOP Rep. Mark Meadows in the 11th Congressional district was won decisively by political newcomer Madison Cawthorn of Henderson County. Cawthorn worked for Meadows’ team before the four-term congressman vacated the seat to become Trump’s chief of staff.
Cawthorn was ahead of Democratic challenger Moe Davis, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, 243,898 to 189,516, or 54.42 percent to 42.36 percent. In Jackson the margin was slightly narrower, with Cawthorn ahead 11,013 to 9,221, or 52.38 percent to 43.85 percent.
At 25, Cawthorn will be one of the youngest members to serve in Congress.
The Hendersonville native said in a release that “When I look at Western North Carolina, I don’t see a purple district. I see red, white and blue. I see a proud, kind, decent and welcoming people who love our founding principles and are determined to make our imperfect union more perfect. I’m humbled and honored to bring these mountain values to Congress.”
He added, “This isn’t a time to settle scores, but to secure the future. Rather than tearing each other down, we need to lift each other up. The scope and magnitude of our challenges are too great to tolerate a dysfunctional status quo.”
In the presidential race, Trump declared victory but Biden was leading in the Electoral College and appeared to be consolidating enough votes for a possible victory as millions of votes continued to be counted. The nation saw an unprecedented number of absentee and mail-in votes in this election cycle largely due to COVID-19 fears and worries of delays by the U.S. Postal Service.
Turnout was healthy in Jackson County. Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl said turnout was 72 percent of the county’s 29,593 registered voters.
“There were a lot of small moving parts that made it a challenge,” Lovedahl said, “But Jackson County has a lot of wonderful precinct workers. They did a great job helping voters who needed assistance to assure everyone was able to cast a regular ballot or provisional ballot. We had a lot of returning workers and a lot of new workers, and they all did a wonderful job.”
Shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday races in North Carolina that had not been called include: president; senate; attorney general; auditor; labor commissioner; secretary of state; N.C. House Districts 9, 45, 63, 74; N.C. Senate District 9; Supreme Court chief justice; Supreme Court associate justice seats 2 and 4.
For updates on the vote count go to the Herald Facebook page or website or https://www.ncsbe.gov/results-data/election-results.