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Democrats competitive in fundraising in local races

Although Democratic candidates have been non-competitive in partisan elections in Henderson County in recent years, several have banked impressive war chests this year.

Campaign reports filed this week also show that the state Democratic Party has made sizable in-kind investments in social media ads for three Democratic challengers seeking to upset Republican legislators in reliably red Henderson County.

Democrat Pat Sheley, a retired psychiatric nurse from Flat Rock, is on local television with 30-second spots touting her positions on the opioid crisis, Hendersonville High School construction and other issues.

“We have opened the war fund," Sheley said. "We made thousands and thousands of dollars. I don’t even know how much.”

Her campaign reported that she had raised $7,666, including $1,502 in donations under $100 and $6,164 in contributions from individuals above $100. She had spent $6,937 as of the third quarter close on Oct. 20 and had $1,238 cash on hand.

"They’re 30-second spots, talking about the different issues in my platform," said Sheley, adding that a supporter, gun-control advocate John Owens, made the spots for free. Separate campaign spots focus on "opioids, the schools, the Bearcats, getting that school, we’ve already spent 4½ million and we have nothing," she said. "We need to get that project finished, on budget. We’ve got one on transparency, a woman’s perspective.”

Sheley's opponent, Michael Edney, raised $2,003, and loaned his campaign $1,500. He spent $2,284 and had $1,691 cash on hand, according to his third quarter reports. He is seeking a fifth term on the Board of Commissioners and is currently board chairman.

This year for the first time in many years, Democrats are on the ballot in Henderson County in all three legislative seats and one of those challengers, Sam Edney, has swamped the Republican incumbent in fundraising. Edney's campaign reported total donations of $136,618, including  $81,723 in the third quarter. A 48-hour notice — required for all contributions of $1,000 or more between Oct. 20 and Election Day — showed the Democratic Party made an in-kind donation of $10,300 to Edney on Oct. 22 and had given $28,337 in all during the 2018 election.

Incumbent Cody Henson, a Republican seeking a second term, reported $4,086 cash on hand on April 21. The state Board of Elections website showed no second or third quarter reports for Henson.

In House District 117, incumbent Chuck McGrady raised total of $138,352, including $57,882 in the third quarter. The total also includes a $20,000 loan. McGrady spent $126,900 ($92,226 in the third quarter) and had $19,482 cash on hand, his report said. Teamsters Local 391 of Greensboro gave McGrady $1,000 on Oct. 26, a 48-hour notice said.

Democratic challenger Gayle Kemp had no third quarrter report on file with the state, although donors filed 48-hour notices of $5,800 from the Democratic Party for social media ads and donations of $1,000 each from Audrey Stelloh, a Hendersonville retiree, and Lauren Livingston, an Asheville physician.

Sen. Chuck Edwards, who is seeking his second full term, received a total of $186,057 in donations, including $47,274 from the N.C. Senate Majority Fund. Edwards also filed 48-hour notices showing donations of $1,000 each from golf course designer Tom Fazio, David Caudle of Flat Rock and the N.C. Outdoor Advertising PAC and $2,500 from Ronald Dillingham of Waynesville.

Norm Bossert, a retired school principle hoping to unseat Edwards in a rematch of their 2016 contest, has raised a total of $64,409 this election cycle, including $31,697 in the third quarter. He spent $50,299 and had $14,597 cash on hand. The state Democratic Party pitched in $3,100 for social media advertising on Oct. 22, for a total of $13,183 this election cycle.

In the 11th Congressional District race, incumbent Mark Meadows far outpaced challenger Phillip Price, a Democrat and business owner from McDowell County. Meadows had raised $1.6 million and had $927,362 in cash as of Sept. 30, the end of the last Federal Election Commission reporting period. Price raised $186,297 and had $100,941 cash on hand, according to his report.

In the Henderson County School Board election, only two of the six candidates on the ballot crossed the $1,000 threshold that triggers the campaign finance reporting requirement. Stacey Caskey raised $4,263, including a $1,700 loan and $2,463 in donations from individuals. She spent $3,380 and had $883 in cash on hand. Dot Case raised $3,070, including a $300 loan and $2,770 in donations from individuals. After spending $1,980, she had $1,082 in cash remaining, her report said.