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Edwards' run for Congress sets off jockeying for his Senate seat

State Sen. Chuck Edwards announces his campaign for Congress at the Historic Courthouse plaza on Tuesday.

Announcing that he is running for Congress on Tuesday, state Sen. Chuck Edwards urged a supportive crowd at the Historic Courthouse plaza to send him to Washington to do what he’s done in the state Legislature.

“Five years ago you gave me one of the most incredible honors of my life and that was to take your votes to Raleigh, North Carolina, and I am so humbled and honored that you’ve given me that opportunity,” he said. “I hope that over the last five years you agree that I have responsibly used that vote and I shared your voice and I helped fight for Christian values, and I helped fight for the unborn and I helped create jobs and the economy in Western North Carolina.”
Standing in front of replicas of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, Edwards said that President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “are stomping all over the documents that are represented right here. They are trampling our rights. They are allowing immigration and open borders. … I will not sit on the bench in Washington, D.C. I’m going to leverage the experience that you gave me in Raleigh to make a difference to help get this country back on track.”
Edwards has been praised for working hard and rising fast in the state Senate, taking on numerous committee assignments and delivering for the interests of Henderson County and the rest of the 48th Senate District. In a primary that already includes right-leaning activists, Edwards said he’s not worried about his right flank.
“I have a solid conservative record,” he said. “I’ve done exactly what I said I would do when I went to Raleigh. I’ve stood up for conservative values, I’ve built the economy, worked for the unborn, reinforced our support for law enforcement and our military — all conservative values.”
Elected officials, business leaders, farmers and others turned out for Edwards’ announcement. Four out of five county commissioners were there.
“I appreciate all he’s done for Henderson County in the state Senate,” Chairman Bill Lapsley said. “I think he’s done a lot of good things. We’ll miss him.”

Although it now includes Democratic-leaning Boone, the new 14th Congressional District is still regarded as a safe seat for the Republican Party.

Appointed to the state Senate upon Tom Apodaca's retirement in 2016 and elected later that year, Edwards won re-election handily in 2018 and 2020. The only elected official among the field that has grown to a half dozen, Edwards enters the race with an edge in name recognition and election success. The three counties Edwards currently represents in the state Senate comprise 56 percent of voters in the new 14th, the Carolina Journal reported earlier this week.

The Republican field also includes two military veterans — Navy veteran Wendy Nevarez and retired Army Col. Rod Honeycutt — Pisgah Inn owner Bruce O’Connell, Republican Party activist Michele Woodhouse and Matthew Burril, a retired financial adviser who is the current chair of the Asheville Regional Airport Authority.

Edwards’ announcement immediately set off speculation on who might be jockeying for his seat. The two names most mentioned are state Rep. Tim Moffitt, who could not immediately be reached for comment, and former County Manager Steve Wyatt, who described himself as a potential candidate but stopped short of committing to a run. Filing for the local, state and federal offices opens Monday.
“That seems to be a pretty popular question,” Wyatt said when asked if he is considering jumping in. “I want to have the best possible representation in Raleigh that we can have. Henderson County in my opinion is the linchpin of Western North Carolina. It’s very important for Western North Carolina and Henderson County. I’m hopeful that outstanding candidates or at last an outstanding candidate will come forward because this is not something that was on my radar screen two weeks ago. But since that time, I’ve had calls from across the state but mainly from here asking me to do that and or encouraging me to do that.”
Among the liabilities Wyatt mentioned is the recent pattern of the Legislature meeting almost year-round.
“It’s an overwhelming decision to make because it’s a lot,” he said. “It’s supposed to be a parttime job where Joe Citizen can go to Raleigh and do the people’s business and come back and have a life. So there’s a lot to consider and there are a lot of people other than me involved in the decision.”
“However, I do have a strong sense of civic responsibility and I want this community well represented," he said, "so my hope is that an outstanding candidate who I can support and who will perhaps even listen my thoughts can step forward for the Senate race.”