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Senate, House candidates make their pitch

Candidates gather at the end of a GOP breakfast on Jan. 16. Candidates gather at the end of a GOP breakfast on Jan. 16.

No one would have predicted that in a political season with no marquis local races several dozen loyal Republicans would brave black ice and freezing temperatures for a cattle call at the Fireside restaurant.

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They did, and for their troubles the party faithful were treated to two- to three-minute biographical sketches from candidates, including more than a dozen running for statewide office.
“We had 24 candidates show up,” said Bruce Hatfield, who organized the breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 16. “We had close to a hundred people in the room. I think there’s a lot of interest building in the national election as well. My approach is to have the voters exposed to the candidates and candidates exposed to the voters. It’s to the benefit of both. I have no dogs in this race, so to speak. I want all the candidates to have an equal chance to run.”
Hatfield, who is secretary of the Crab Creek precinct, said the early Saturday time is intended to broaden the party’s reach.
“The idea is to try to reach out to the younger crowd that are busy during the week,” he said. “It gets the folks we miss during the week and in the evening.”
This was no Trump v. Cruz scuffle.
Candidates held their fire when it came to opposition. Since their party now occupies the governor’s mansion and boasts supermajority control of the state House and Senate, Republican candidates have discarded the broad run-against-Raleigh script that they repeated for years. They stayed mostly positive, trying to persuade the crowd why they were the best choice to run the state insurance department, auditor’s office or public schools.
Chuck Edwards, the McDonald’s franchisee who started his career flipping burgers and cleaning restrooms at age 16 at the Spartanburg Highway McDonald’s, opened his remarks by praising the waitresses who threaded their way through the crowd carrying plates of pancakes, eggs and bacon.
“The first thing I’d like to do is to give a huge round of applause to the wait staff and the kitchen staff here,” said Edwards, who is running for the Republican nomination for the 48th state Senate District. “As you learn a little bit about me you’ll learn that I have a great deal of respect for the job for what these folks do. It’s hard but it’s very critical to society. We count on folks like that.”
Dennis Justice broke from party doctrine to declare that party does not matter — or won’t, when desperate times come.
“When the crisis comes I don’t care about anyone’s registration, I don’t care about anyone’s orientation, I don’t care about anyone’s pigmentation,” he said.
Lisa Baldwin said she reaches back for inspiration to her “fifth great-grandfather, Christian Carpenter,” who signed the Tryon Resolve. “He could have lost his life, his family and his fortune for freedom and liberty,” she said. “That’s why I’m running for this office.”
If Baldwin draws inspiration from a family member born 250 years ago, House candidate Cody Henson draws his from one born last summer.
“My wife and I have got a five-month-old son,” he said. “I was sitting there thinking, he has no future in this area. … Our children shouldn’t be our biggest export.”

Here are the remarks from Baldwin, Edwards and Justice, candidates for the 48th Senate District; and Cody Henson, who faces Brevard real estate agent Coty Ferguson in the Republican primary for the 113th House District.


Lisa Carpenter Baldwin: ‘I want to preserve freedom and liberty.’

“My husband and I live in Fletcher. We have four children. One is at MIT. He’s doing research on refining uranium for a nuclear weapon and he plans to work in the defense industry. We have a son and daughter at N.C. State both studying engineering and our youngest son is in high school. They were all valedictorians and I’ve got three Eagle Scouts as well. I’m a North Carolina native and my family has lived here for over 250 year. My fifth great-grandfather, Christian Carpenter, signed the Tryon Resolve. This was an early declaration of freedom from the tyranny of Great Britain signed before the Declaration of Independence. He could have lost his life, his family and his fortune for freedom and liberty. That’s why I’m running for this office. I’m a strict Constitutionalist because I want to preserve that freedom and liberty my ancestors fought so hard for. I believe we have to look at the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution at all our decision-making at the state level. I’m a fiscal and social conservative and Christian Biblical values are my guiding principals. I am pro-life. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. My experience on the School Board in Buncombe County showed that I can stand up and fight for these conservative values. I stood up for parent rights as well as ending Common Core. We need higher education standards for our children.”


Chuck Edwards: ‘My resume stands out … for getting things done.’

“The first thing I’d like to do is to give a huge round of applause to the wait staff and the kitchen staff here,” he said. “As you learn a little bit about me you’ll learn that I have a great deal of respect for the job that these folks do. It’s hard but it’s very critical to society. We count on folks like that. … I’d like to thank you for being here. I think the hope of the conservative party is for us to get together on our interests and become activated and I know all of you would rather be off doing something else on a Saturday morning than listening to a politician talk about themself. The good news is I’m not a politician. The bad news is I’m going to talk about myself. I’m a local guy, just a normal boy, I consider myself a mountain boy. I was born in Waynesville. I moved over here at the age of 12 when my mom and dad divorced along with my brother sister. I attended Rugby Junior High and graduated West Henderson High School. I attended Blue Ridge Community College. I think I have the good fortune to live in the best region in the best state in the best country on the entire planet. And that gets me to why I am sincere in becoming your senator in District 48. It’s not that I’ve ever aspired to be a politician. It’s that I love this area, I love this district and I want to serve. I started working at McDonald’s on Spartanburg Highway when I was 16 years old and after being raised in a family where I was taught to worship God and watch out for our neighbors… we were taught to love our country. We were taught the sacrifices that our family had made and we were taught to be appreciative of those sacrifices. We were also taught to work hard. I’ve got a plaque in my office that says I’m a great believe in work. And I find the harder I work the luckier I get. I want to put that work for you. I think that my resume stands out as one that can demonstrate business skills, understanding, getting things done and leadership skills that can actually be used in Raleigh to do the things for you that you need to be done.”


Dennis Justice: ‘When the crisis comes I don’t care about anyone’s registration, orientation, pigmentation.’

“I was not born here but I’ve been a resident here since 1978. I have five generations of Justices, Hyders, Corns. My paternal grandfather was William Leonard Justice. The packinghouse just down the road from the Justice Academy was my grandfather’s. I have a memory of him and he was a very godly man. My maternal grandfather was Grover Corn, which means of course that my great-grandfather was Zeb Corn. So I have deep roots here. Hopefully by the grace of God if I win, in my swearing-in ceremony, I’ll be taking my granny’s Bible, which she gave me right before she died, when I gave my heart to Jesus, and I will not give an oath, I’ll give an affirmation and I’ll commit to uphold the Constitution of the United States and North Carolina and I’ll put it on Romans 13:8 that says ‘owe no man anything but to love one another. For he that has loved another has fulfilled the law.’ When the crisis comes I don’t care about anyone’s registration, I don’t care about anyone’s orientation, I don’t care about anyone’s pigmentation. The only thing that matters is his desperation. We as a government need to be able to have emergency infrastructure to help people when the most desperate hour comes. The reason I am running is partly because of my oldest son, Andrew. We have 10 million people in this state and we have three mental hospitals, and we are not getting mental health care that we need to give and it’s criminal. I’m here because of education. We have one candidate who has had his wealth and is the anointed candidate. We have one candidate who has experience to her credit, being elected to public office. But there’s not one candidate in this race that can look you in the eye and say ‘I saved you millions of dollars my helping defeat the 1997 school bond referendum.’ I worked with a team of Republicans, Democrats and independents to defeat that referendum. It was too much money for too few schools. When I get elected I will seek common-sense solutions. I’ll look at concrete domes for schools, housing, emergency shelters. We’re spending too much money on school construction and not paying the teachers. We need to get bumper stickers that say ‘First in Teacher Flight’ for not covering these teachers. (Baldwin) opposed Common Core. So do I. I opposed Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind. We have an upside down pyramid. These teachers were very good to my children. We have a great school system. We just need to back them.”


Cody Henson: ‘Children shouldn’t be our biggest export’

“I was born and raised in the district. I graduated high school from Rosman. I’ve lived here my whole life. My family goes back six generations in the district and I’m running because we need jobs in our area. I was laying on the couch one night, my wife and I have got a five-month-old son. I was sitting there thinking, he has no future in this area. He can come back when he’s 65 ready to entire but until then he’s going to have to leave. I don’t want him to be forced into that option. I drive 45 minutes to work every day just to support my family because there’s no jobs in our area. I want to change that. Our children deserve a future. We cheer them on all through high school with different sporting events, we applaud ‘em when they shake the principal’s hand when they get their diplomas and then we’re done with ‘em. Our children shouldn’t be our biggest export. They deserve a fighting chance. If you vote for me I’ll be the hardest working individual in Raleigh, I guarantee you that.”