(1:00 p.m. Thursday) - Haywood County businesswoman Lynda Bennett announced she'll seek the Republican nomination in North Carolina's 11th Congressional district, just hours after incumbent GOP Congressman Mark Meadows announced he would not seek re-election next year and instead retire.
Bennett was the first Republican to throw their name in the ring following Meadows Thursday morning announcement, which came on the day before candidate filing ends for the March 3rd primary in North Carolina. In a press release announcing her candidacy, Bennett called herself a strong supporter of President Trump and Meadows, and said she would seek to join the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus in the House, a group that Meadows once chaired. Bennett is the vice-chair of the Haywood County Republican Party, and operates a 'full-service real estate company and vacation rental management county' with her husband according to her press release.
Four Democrats are running for their party's nomination - Gina Collias, Morris Davis, Steve Woodsmall, and Michael O'Shea. O'Shea was the latest to get into the race, formally announcing his campaign Wednesday evening in Asheville at The Grey Eagle. The Smoky Mountain News reports that Phillip Price, the Democratic nominee in the last election in 2018, endorsed O'Shea at the event.
(7:30 a.m. Thursday) Western North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows announced Thursday morning he will not seek re-election next year, and instead will retire at the end of his current term.
Meadows announced his retirement the day before candidate filing for next year's March primary ends. It also came just hours after the House impeached President Trump. Meadows is one of the president's strongest defenders in DC, and previously served as the chair of the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus. He's been long rumored to have sought a position within the Trump administration, rumors that will only figure to grow now.
Meadows was first elected in 2012 to represent North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, which encompasses the western most part of the state. The district lines that year had been heavily redrawn by state Republicans to cut the city of Asheville into two Congressional districts, the 10th and 11th. That made the district far more favorable to the GOP electorally, leading to the retirement of then Democratic Congressman Health Shuler and Meadows' subsquent victory. Earlier this year, a state court ordered that North Carolina's Congressional map be redrawn because it was illegally gerrymandered. The 11th was redrawn to include all of Asheville and Buncombe County for next year's election, improving Democratic chances of winning the seat, though Meadows was still considered a favorite to win reelection by political analysts.
Thursday morning's statement below -
“For everything there is a season. After prayerful consideration and discussion with family, today I’m announcing that my time serving Western North Carolina in Congress will come to a close at the end of this term.
This was a decision I struggled with greatly. These last 8 years, I have been so blessed to serve the people of NC-11 and help give a voice to millions of Americans who feel Washington, DC has forgotten them. Since serving alongside President Trump, I have been a witness to historic economic prosperity, unemployment levels I only dreamed of when I took office, tax and regulatory reforms that are putting the American worker first, our Israeli embassy moved to Jerusalem, and trade deals that were once thought impossible. I have seen our law enforcement and first responders receive the support they deserve and our military once again put on a path to maintain its superiority. Through it all, I am so thankful to have been able to serve and give back to the great country I call home.
My work with President Trump and his administration is only beginning. This President has accomplished incredible results for the country in just 3 years, and I’m fully committed to staying in the fight with him and his team to build on those successes and deliver on his promises for the years to come. I’ve always said Congress is a temporary job, but the fight to return Washington, DC to its rightful owner, We The People, has only just begun.
To the people of Western North Carolina: it’s been my honor to be your Congressman. Thank you for your trust, faith, and support. God bless you.”
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