|Madison Cawthorn (R)|
So far, three Democrats have declared their intention to compete in the spring 2022 Democratic primary to take on Cawthorn.
Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara was the first Democrat to declare on March 3rd. Beach-Ferrara, who is both a gay woman and a Christian minister as well as the mother of three children, said, “I’m running because Western North Carolina families deserve better than they’re getting from Madison Cawthorn. My faith teaches me that leadership starts with empathy, compassion, and listening and then getting to work to help people. That’s the kind of leadership I want to offer instead of the division and mean-spiritedness we’re getting now. This is going to be a campaign built on bringing people together, finding common ground, organizing everywhere and talking about the issues that actually matter to people’s lives.”
Beach-Ferrara reportedly raised $380K in the first 29 days of her campaign.
A former Army infantryman who served two combat tours in Iraq, Remillard ran previously in 2020 for the NC House Dist. 117, which Republican Tim Moffitt easily won with over 60% of the vote. According to Cory Vaillancourt, Remillard was born in Goldsboro, raised in Wilmington, and was in foster care until the age of four. "After leaving the Army, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from the University of Washington. Remillard’s current occupation is serving as a stay-at-home dad."
“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do the hard work of strengthening our economy, fixing a broken health-care system, and improving our kids' education,” he said. “I am running to stop Madison Cawthorn and bring honor back to Congress.
The newest Democrat in the race: Ed Gash, an elementary school principal, a preacher, and a former linebacker at UNC-Chapel Hill.
He was profiled today by Kyle Perrotti:
Gash was born and raised in Western North Carolina, having graduated from Hendersonville High School in 1988. From there, he went to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he also played outside linebacker. While Gash eventually had the chance to sign with the New England Patriots, the team his brother Sam played for, he decided to go a different direction and get into business.
It wasn’t long before a new venture took him to the Caribbean, where he lived for 14 years training people in different countries to run direct sales operations.
Before long, Gash met Katy, who is from Barbados. The two quickly fell in love and got married a year later in 1996. The two got to travel frequently for work to countries all over the world and even lived in Guyana, the Virgin Islands and St. Lucia.
Eventually, in 2008, the Gashes and their three children moved back to Hendersonville to be closer to his family in the mountains.
“I was away for 20 years, almost to the day,” Gash said.
Gash got right to work in the school system. Beginning as a part-time teaching assistant, he became a math teacher before getting his master’s degree and going into administration. In January 2020, he became the principal at Bruce Drysdale Elementary School, which he himself attended as a child.
Since being back home, Gash also coached girls basketball and served as an assistant coach on the football team until 2014 when he was named Hendersonville’s head coach, making him only the second Black head coach in Western North Carolina since integration. Gash coached until 2016 when he stepped away to go into administration.
Another major part of Gash’s life is his faith, which he said guides every decision. Since 2008, after doing missionary work during his last couple of years in the Caribbean, he’s been the pastor at the nondenominational Speak Life Community Church and is also currently the Hendersonville Police Department’s chaplain.
“It’s the faith that causes me to look at folks that maybe don’t believe what I believe or feel the way I feel with compassion and love and still be able to have a conversation with them,” Gash said.
Gash has long been active in the community, but it wasn’t until recently that he began seeing things through a more political lens. While he and Katy said they don’t consider themselves activists, between the COVID pandemic and racial unrest of the last year, they’ve felt compelled to make their voices heard.
“Something happened over the summer,” Gash said. “It was a paradigm shift, just in my heart, where I felt I had to do something.”