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Attorney and businesswoman files for Congress

Gina Collias filed for the 11th Congressional District seat. Gina Collias filed for the 11th Congressional District seat.

Gina Collias, an attorney and businesswoman from Asheville, announced Monday that she is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows in the 11th Congressional District.

Although Collias said in a news release that her family home in Buncombe County had recently been drawn into North Carolina’s 11th District, in her campaign filing she listed a Kings Mountain address. She becomes the third Democrat to file for the seat, after Steve Woodsmall of Pisgah Forest and Moe Davis of Asheville. Tamara Lynn Zwinak, a Green Party candidate from Franklin, has also filed for the seat. Meadows has not yet filed, according to the state Board of Elections.

Collias said the newly redrawn District 11 is now more winnable for a Democrat because liberal-leaning Buncombe County is no longer split between two districts. Even so, national forecasts have not listed the 11th Congressional District seat as competitive for Democrats. 

In a video announcing her campaign, Collias pays tribute to Lillian Exum Clement, who became the first woman elected to the North Carolina Legislature in 1920. Clement was overwhelmingly elected by an all-male electorate and was also the first female state legislator elected in the South. A plaque in downtown Asheville commemorates her history-making achievements. The year 1920 was also a milestone year for American women, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.

“To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lillian Clement’s groundbreaking election and women getting the right to vote, I intend to run and beat Mark Meadows and become the first woman elected to the House in District 11,” she said. “I will bring Mark Meadows home to allow him to become reacquainted with our great people and let him enjoy the beauty of the Western North Carolina’s mountains. Perhaps then he’ll have enough time to rethink the reasons for his 0% Environmental Score from the League of Conservation Voters.”

Collias added: “It has become clearer by the day that Mark Meadows has lost his way and all semblance of a moral compass. He does not represent the values we hold dear. His attacks on our families’ healthcare, women, the environment, workers, and our fiscal future reveal his true character, and it’s not in line with Western North Carolina values.”

“My campaign to unseat Meadows will build bridges among the citizens of District 11," she said. "I will represent the values of Western North Carolina – integrity, civility, and helping our neighbors to succeed and thrive in the greatest democracy on Earth. I will get things done for Western North Carolinians, not for the ultra-partisan groups, Wall Street, Big Banks, Big Pharma, and their PACs.”

An attorney and businesswoman, Collias has a long history of working in her community to get things done for North Carolina. She is living in Buncombe County where her son attends school in Asheville. She described herself as a pro-choice, pro-civil rights, pro-education, and pro-environment advocate. She has spoken at the Women’s March and at Union conferences. She gave the recent Political Science Commencement Address at UNC-Chapel Hill and has participated in panels at Duke University and George Washington University.

She described herself as a moderate Democrat who is progressive on many social issues and supports responsible fiscal policy. Although a gun owner, she says there must be sensible gun safety laws, like 90% of Americans. Collias feels strongly that all Americans have the right to access decent universal health care. She favors a public option (“Medicare for all who want it”) with the right to keep private insurance if people want to.

Her video is at