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Walsh's fundraising outpaced the field in unsuccessful council campaign

Chelsea Walsh used yard signs, billboards, radio spots and newspaper advertising to boost her campaign for a Hendersonville City Council seat paid for by a robust fundraising effort that far outstripped her competitors.

When it was over, however, she learned that “sometimes money doesn’t win elections.”
Campaign finance reports filed in late January covering the 2021 election cycle showed that Walsh, who resigned as chair of the Henderson County Republican Party to run for the city seat, raised $11,422, the most by far among the five candidates for mayor and council seats.
Jerry Smith, who is unaffiliated, reported $7,050 in campaign money, including a $6,000 donation from himself. Debbie Roundtree, a Democrat who was elected along with Smith, did not raise enough to require a campaign finance report. Mayor Barbara Volk raised $2,780 in her successful defense of her seat against challenger DJ Harrington, who raised $3,000.
Raphael Morales dropped out in October, saying he did not want to dilute the vote for the more progressive-leaning candidates on the ballot.
“I think Raph’s decision hurt my campaign,” Walsh said. “Instead of those votes being split between three people they were now split between the two either unaffiliated or registered Democrats on the ballot.”
She raised money through phone calls, attending luncheons and holding two campaign fundraisers, which attracted many Republican donors, including five elected officials and two current candidates. Donors included U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who gave $1,000, former Henderson County Commissioner Marilyn Gordon ($500), current commissioners David Hill ($150) and Rebecca McCall ($100), School Board member and county commission candidate Amy Lynn Holt ($100), Hendersonville City Council member Jennifer Hensley ($250) and School Board candidate Vance McCraw ($560).
“I worked for it and I think that’s a pretty good indication of working for it in the future,” she said. “I utilized resources I had, I engaged with the community and people believed in me. They saw how hard I worked, they saw how much this community means to me, they saw the list of candidates and they put their money where their mouth is. I did everything I could have done. I wanted to take that campaign very seriously.”
Walsh has now moved on to the race for state House District 117, which Rep. Tim Moffitt is vacating to run for the state Senate. Also declared for the state House seat is Republican Jennifer Capps Balkcom. Walsh said she hopes the “momentum” from her City Council campaign last fall extends into the state House race.
“I know that I had over a thousand votes in the city limits, which is very promising going forward,” she said, “and I know that I have been approached by numerous people going forward that regardless of what happened with City Council race they still believe in me, they’ll still vote for me.”