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LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Edwards is the best choice for Senate seat

One of the most significant retirements in recent years is Tom Apodaca’s departure from the state Senate, where he has virtually rewritten the playbook as an attentive, powerful and effective representative of Hendersonville and Henderson County.

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Because of his unique political talent, seniority and position — as Senate Rules chairman he is the third or fourth most powerful legislator in Raleigh — Apodaca can’t be replaced.
But, given how spoiled we’ve become at having the one-time junior bank teller and former bail bondsman fight for us in Raleigh, it’s crucial that voters elect a successor who shares the senator’s business background, non-ideological philosophy and proven commitment to Hendersonville and Henderson County. By that measure, Chuck Edwards is overwhelmingly the best choice.
Edwards faces Lisa Carpenter Baldwin and Dennis Justice in the Republican primary for Senate District 48. The winner faces Democrat Norm Bossert, an elementary school principal who lives in Pisgah Forest.
Baldwin’s record in politics starts and ends with her service on the School Board in Buncombe County, where voters fired her after one term, presumably because her zeal for ideological warfare got in the way of common-sense governance of local schools.
Like many ideologues, Baldwin seeks to nationalize state politics, running on yesterday’s issues like Common Core, which the Legislature has already dismantled. She promised at one recent campaign appearance to “join South Carolina” in fighting to restore North Carolina’s marriage law — which means she would waste taxpayers’ money on a futile attempt to overturn what has become settled law across the land.
Baldwin casts herself as a resume candidate, touting her class rank, advanced degrees and (short-lived) service as an economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She often sounds as if she’s running for Mother of the Year and not a Senate seat, prominently highlighting the (admittedly impressive) credentials of her high school- and college-aged children.
Perennial ballot tagalong Dennis Justice, who makes Donald Trump sound rational, opposes the $2 billion bond issue that would greatly benefit Blue Ridge Community College, UNC Asheville and Western Carolina University and, through research and food product development, boost Henderson County’s important farm economy. So does Baldwin. The two also oppose economic development incentives, repeal of which would put our successful industry-recruiting apparatus out of business.
In contrast, Edwards, through his work as a Chamber of Commerce and in other capacities, has helped lead efforts to expand the local economy. Working his way up from the grill at age 16, Edwards owns seven McDonald’s restaurants in three counties. He’s made payroll, paid taxes and built new stores. He’s worked in government relations at the state and national level on behalf of the fast-food chain.
Like Apodaca 14 years ago, Edwards presents himself as a non-politician who would work in Raleigh for the community he loves. While he would be business-oriented, Edwards is broad-minded enough to perceive the best interest of the district across all parts of its economic and civic life. No one can match the incumbent’s power anytime soon, true, but Edwards, who has Apodaca’s endorsement, is the best candidate to grab the baton and get to work on representing the 48th Senate District.