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WNC Roundup: GOP Does Well Outside Of Buncombe County, Where Dems Increase Power

The partisan divide in Western North Carolina between its most populous jurisdiction and those that surround it only grew further following Tuesday's election results.

Republicans did very well outside of Buncombe County, as Madison Cawthorn rode overhwhelming support from those counties to an easy victory on the 11th Congressional District, which now consists of North Carolina's 18 westernmost counties.  The GOP also flipped the lone competitive General Assembly seat in the region Tuesday, with Mike Clampitt reclaiming the 119th District House seat from incumbent Democrat Joe Sam Queen by a 54-46% margin.  It was the fifth consecutive election that Queen and Clampitt faced each other in the district which consists of Jackson, Swain, and parts of Haywood County.  That means the GOP holds all seats in the region's General Assembly delegation that are outside of Buncombe County.  That's something Clampitt told BPR late Tuesday he believes is a good thing.  "Having the group that we have at this time gives us a great opportunity to have a Western North Carolina coalition of legislators to address collectively the issues in Western North Carolina for broadband, healthcare, and the other important items that are on our plate at this time."

In Buncombe County, Democrats increased their power, sweeping all four county board of commissioner elections with ease.  That gives Democrats a 6-1 majority on the board, with incumbent GOP commissioners Joe Belcher and Anthony Penland losing to Parker Sloan and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara respectively.  Terri Wells won the open seat in District 1, and board chairman Brownie Newman was re-elected, defeating Robert Pressley, who did not have to give up his district seat on the board to run for chairman and is now the lone Republican left.

In the Asheville City Council election, Sandra Kilgore and Sage Turner finished first and second, ensuring they will join council.  Kim Roney finished third, just 1,026 votes ahead of Keith Young, the lone incumbent on the ballot this year.  Her lead is just .8%, within the margin that could trigger an automatic recount which is 1% or less in local races in North Carolina.  Remaining absentee by mail and provisional ballots will be counted by next Friday November 13th, but if Roney wins, Asheville will have an all-woman city council.  

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.