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NC's Westernmost Counties Saw Republican Wins And Huge Voter Turnout

Lilly Knoepp
Republican Mike Clampitt won the most contested seat in WNC, NC House District 119. Here is he campaigning at the Birdtown Rec Center on Election Day with volunteer Bill Walters.

Western North Carolina’s seven westernmost counties were solidly red this election.

The lone competitive General Assembly election in Western North Carolina was House District 119, which includes Jackson, Swain, and parts of Haywood County.  Republican Mike Clampitt won the seat back Tuesday.

“Well I think this win was a little bit more than the Trump Bump,” said Clampitt.

Clampitt has run against Democrat Joe Sam Queen, who was the incumbent, for five consecutive elections. Clampitt says he won thanks to the “Trump Train” in 2016 , then lost when Trump wasn’t at the top of the ballot two years later.  This year he credits better campaigning tactics, and says he looks forward to working with the other Republicans who won General Assembly seats in Western North Carolina last night.

“Having the group that we have at this time gives us a great opportunity to have a Western North Carolin coalition of  legislators who can address collectively the issues of broadband, healthcare and the other important items that we have that are on our plate at this time,” said Clampitt.

In the neighboring 120th district which serves the westernmost part of the state, Karl Gillespie will be the new state representative. Gillespie follows in the footsteps of the current representative Kevin Corbin, who was also previously a Macon County Commissioner.

“Yeah it looks like Republicans won big in Western North Carolina in this cycle,” said Gillespie.  The 118th district was also won by Haywood County Republican Mark Pless.

Corbin won’t be leaving the state house, but just moving to a different chamber.  He was elected the state senator for District 50 Tuesday. He’s said he was excited to win the vote total in each of the 7 counties in the district.

“The more people that vote, I feel like getting the office is more validated than if only a small number of people had turned out to decide who was going to serve. So as someone who was in the race I’m very grateful for the huge voter turnout,” said Corbin.  

North Carolina has already broken voter turnout records even as votes are still being counted.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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