Filing for the 2020 legislative elections doesn’t begin until next month, but that hasn’t stopped many Western North Carolina candidates from making their intentions known early.
At a firehouse in Balsam, Waynesville Democratic Rep. Joe Sam Queen announced he’d seek reelection. That ensures the longest running political feud in Western North Carolina will continue, as Bryson City Republican Mike Clampitt announced he’s running again too. This will be the fifth consecutive election between the two men. Queen won the last one in 2018.
“I'm happy to do it,” Queen said. “I think the citizens know us. He's been against the education bond, the NC Connect bond, he's for the ‘SKIF scam’ stuff now. I mean, he's not for Medicaid expansion. What has he done for education? You know, I'll be glad to take Mr. Mike Clampitt on.”
Buncombe County Sen. Terry Van Duyn, who’s running for lieutenant governor, counts herself among Queen’s supporters. “Joe Sam Queen is a fierce advocate for the people of Western North Carolina, especially on health care, especially on education, especially on the things that we care about,” said Van Duyn. “He is in the trenches every day. I love him dearly, and I'm going to do everything I can to help him get reelected.”
North Carolina Democrats are hoping to build on gains made last year and capitalize on redrawn districts. They also got some good news last Tuesday, when Virginia went blue for the first time in 26 years, and Kentucky’s Republican governor was defeated. Both elections were seen as a referendum on the popularity of President Donald Trump.
Although Trump is expected to be a significant factor in the 2020 elections, Queen said he’s running on issues important to residents of his North Carolina district, which includes Swain, Jackson and parts of Haywood County.
“It matters, for the citizens of North Carolina to have quality education, expand Medicaid for 7,000 or 8,000 in my district to have healthcare,” said Queen. “That's why I'm running, because you got to work to get this done.”
The primary election in North Carolina is March 3 next year, with the General Election exactly seven months later on Nov. 3.