With Waynesville Democrat Matt Coffay withdrawing from next year’s race for the Congressional seat in North Carolina’s eleventh district, the only challenger left for incumbent Republican Mark Meadows’s seat now is Nebo resident Phillip Price. BPR’s Davin Eldridge caught up with Price at a meet-and-greet in Highlands, where Price introduced himself to a non-partisan group of voters…
The challenger’s first public event in Macon County took place in front of a packed house at the Hudson Public Library. Some 45 locals of varying political stripes were there to vet the newcomer, who started off the meeting by breaking out into song.
Price has lived all over Western North Carolina throughout the last 34 years. An alumnus of Western Carolina University, he’s a married father of three. He bills himself as a “working man for the working people”, and says he wants to replace the extremist views and obstructionist tactics of Washington with common sense and pragmatism—which he believes is hurting the bottom line for most Western North Carolinians.
“I can tell you that this is the coolest place in the world, and I love it deeply," said Price. "It’s in my heart. I am standing up to protect this place. I think the guy who’s there now doesn’t give a crap about the working people in this district.”
While Price is a Democrat and describes himself as progressive, he says he is somewhat conservative in a few key areas. For instance, he is a self-avowed Christian, one who believes in separation of church and state.
“I have a great life, a great family, a business, and I don’t have to be doing this. I’m standing up to do this job, because I’ve been called to do it. I feel like God has called me to do this. I woke up one morning after having a dream and it hit me between the eyes… The reason I’m doing this is because I’m a believer.”
Price sees himself working in D.C. as a moderate, willing to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans. He wants to push for single payer healthcare for all, and feels it’s needed in areas like Western North Carolina more than anywhere else.
“It’s a horrific travesty that we still go into our convenience stores and see a jar with a little girl’s face on the side of it, and her parents have pleaded with the public to put a few quarters in there to save their child’s life," he said. "Really? We’re the most powerful, richest nation in the world, and we have people begging for many to save their child.”
Audience member: What’s your position on guns?
Price: “I support responsible gun ownership and gun safety. I think that if you have to go take a test to operate a vehicle on the roads, you should have to do something similar to own a gun. How is that so unreasonable?”
Audience member: Mark got to where he is because of Gerrymandering. How are you going to get around that?
Price: “Well I’m gonna hope that the courts change their minds.”
Price took a number of other questions as well, wherein he highlighted his position on several issues, ranging from moderately conservative to straight up progressive—such as advocating for gender equality, improving infrastructure and statewide educational standards, pushing for better broadband internet access for the region, and taking a hard stance on immigration while also providing an easier path to citizenship for immigrants he says are “hardworking and productive”.
The boundaries of the 11th District favor Republicans, as the Democratic strongholds of Asheville and Buncombe County are cut in half and split with the neighboring 10th District. Meadows has increased his margin of victory in each of the 3 elections he’s run in, winning by almost 30% last year. Price says he’s fully aware of the uphill battle he faces by running as a Democrat—but it’s a battle he feels must be fought.