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Red wall in Blue Ridge blocks Democratic wave

Tonya Sprague celebrates voting with a selfie. Tonya Sprague celebrates voting with a selfie.

There was no blue wave here. Voters in reliably Republican Henderson County erected a red wall and re-elected incumbent Republicans against a hard charge by Democrats, who had fielded more candidates for the Legislature than in recent years and in several races had competed on nearly even ground with their Republican opponents.

 

Incumbents up and down the ballot turned back challengers leads as Henderson County’s record-breaking number of early votes were released Tuesday night.

Incumbents up and down the ballot enjoyed leads as Henderson County’s record-breaking number of early votes were released Tuesday night.

Early voting by 27,238 county residents translated into a 31.7 percent turnout before Election Day, or about 70 percent better than early voting in 2014, the last midterm election. The county has 85,948 registered voters.

In unofficial results:

  • U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, 57.5 percent, Phillip Price 40.6 percent.
  • State Sen. Chuck Edwards 55 percent, Democratic challenger Norm Bossert, 45 percent.
  • Cody Henson, 56 percent, Democrat Sam Edney, 44 percent.
  • Chuck McGrady, 59 percent, Gayle Kemp, 41 percent.
  • Henderson County Commissioner Michael Edney, 59 percent, Pat Sheley, 41 percent.
  • Henderson County School Board (3 seats): Amy Lynn Holt, the only incumbent, 22.63 percent; Jay Egolf, 20.95 percent, Dot R. Case, 18.88 percent; Stacey Caskey, 15.99 percent; Ted Beddingfield, 15.08 percent; Randy Ward, 6.11 percent.

Henderson County Republican Party Chair Merry Guy told a gathering of the party faithful at Mountain Lodge shortly after the polls closed that “anecdotal evidence” was pointing to a record turnout for a mid-term election. She credited the party’s “prayer warriors” and other volunteers.

Blue wave crests in cities

State Rep. Chuck McGrady coasted to re-election while watching voters oust his House and Senate colleagues from bigger cities.

“In the state House and state Senate there are probably eight Republican senators that are trailing and probably 10 or 12 House members,” he said. “It looks like, as expected, they’re urban seats mostly, in Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake, and the New Hanover seats.”

In Henderson County, Kemp was not able to make much of a dent in McGrady’s popularity.

“I think I’m a really known quantity,” he said. “I think my opponent tried to run a sort of generic Democratic campaign without recognizing that I was in no way a generic Republican. Attacking me on my environmental record without saying any specific didn’t do what was necessary.” Kemp also made a run at McGrady over gerrymandering, without regard to the fact that he’s one of the most independent-minded members of his caucus on that issue and a strong supporter of an independent redistricting panel.

“I’ve been recognized by pretty much everybody in the state for my work on that issue,” he said. “I’ve always said about Henderson County folks that there’s a lot of retirees, a lot of educated people and a lot of people that have lived here a long time, they’re just not going to fall for that stuff. I’m actually more excited about this victory than most if not all that I’ve run just because the type race that she ran.”

Edwards’ race with Bossert appeared to be relatively close early before Edwards pulled away. “The Senate Campaign Committee was concerned that it could be in play,” McGrady said. “It would look like as night goes if he holds on to that sort of lead, he should be back but it’ll be a narrower race than probably was perceived going into it.”

Edney cruises to fifth term

 

County Commission Michael Edney cruised to a fifth term despite some speculation that voters frustrated with Hendersonville High School construction, shooting ranges and other local issues might turn out the only incumbent on the ballot Tuesday.

“Looks like I got another four years,” he said in a telephone interview from the Mountain Lodge celebration. His record “mirrors the thoughts and wishes of the vast majority of the community,” he added.

“One, (Sheley) hadn’t been here that long and doesn’t know the community as well as I do. Her issues were more national related and commissioners are elected to deal with local issues,” he said. In his next term, “I think we keep moving ahead, keep doing the things we been doing, think outside the box, improvise and work efficiently within the dollars the taxpayers provide the county to operate, with emergency services and education in the forefront but focusing on the overall quality of life in the county.”

Sheriff-elect Griffin ‘excited to come home’

Lowell Griffin, who was officially elected sheriff Tuesday night with no opposition, stood at the back of a ballroom at Mountain Lodge greeting supporters while the man he defeated, Charlie McDonald, sat at a table up front. McDonald said he had had no offers for the next phase of his career, though he said he wasn’t ready to retire. “I’m kind of a single-task kind of guy,” McDonald said. He said he was helping with the transition to a new administration, which will take place in early December, and hadn’t received any calls from his best-known supporters, Congressman Meadows and President Trump, about another job opportunity.

Griffin said he’s been preparing for his new job already.

“I have been so busy with the transition, when I realized it was official tonight I really didn’t feel any different,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas moving forward to get more involved in the community out here. We’ve interviewed just about everybody that has rank in the department and we’re getting ideas from the troops. It’s amazing what the boots on the ground can tell you.”

“From what I understand, it has been very positive,” he said of the mood in the department. “I’m really happy to see everybody excited to take the next step and I’m excited to come back home to Henderson County and to work for the people of Henderson County.”

Holt ‘humbled’ to lead ballot

School Board Chair Amy Lynn Holt said she was “kind of humbled” to finish first among six candidates for three School Board seats. The only incumbent, Holt, who won 22.6 percent of the vote, will be joined on the board by Jay Egolf, who won 20.8 percent, and Dot Case, with 19.2 percent.

“I sure didn’t think I would be the highest vote getter but I’m very grateful and very excited to stay on the board for four more years,” she said. “I’m very excited (about Egolf and Case). I think they both will be great board members.”

Holt has led the board’s drive to hire a new architect and take another stab at Hendersonville High School construction.

“I’m not sure that made an impact that people voted for me or not but I hope it would tell voters that if they wanted something for their school and they were passionate about something they needed, I would be there to help them as well,” she said. “No matter who it is that comes to me and talks to me, I always listen to what they have to say. If it’s an email, I respond. I hear all time, ‘You’re the only board member that responded to my email. You’re the only board member that called me back. I just feel like that’s our job.”