Tuesday, October 04, 2022

The State of Play in Buncombe County


Going into 2022, the entire NC House delegation from Buncombe County -- Susan Fisher, John Ager, and Brian Turner -- announced they would not be running for reelection. Ager and Turner promised to serve out their terms, but Susan Fisher went ahead and officially resigned in January, which forced an appointment to fill out her term. According to Dave's Redistricting and NCFree, those three districts ought to be solid for remaining in Democratic hands.

House District 114

Susan Fisher's former district (eastern Buncombe). Dave rates it 63.9% Democratic, NC Free as D+10.

Eric Ager

Buncombe Democrats chose data scientist and Peace Corps veteran Caleb Rudow to finish Fisher's term, and Gov. Cooper dutifully appointed him on February 1st. The NC General Assembly site lists Rudow as currently serving in the Dist. 114 seat, but here's a small mystery: Ballotpedia says he was running for reelection in Dist., 114, but "did not appear on the ballot for the Democratic primary on May 17, 2022." Instead, he was suddenly running for the Dist. 116 seat. In his place in HD114, Eric Ager, John Ager's son, is now the Democrat on the ballot. But Eric Ager had already announced that he would be running for his father's seat in HD115. Something happened. The fruit-baskets turned over, so to speak, and I frankly don't know what.

So it's now Eric Ager (D) v. Everett Pittillo (R) in HD114.

Ager is a former Navy pilot and currently the operations manager of the Ager family farm, Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

Everett Pittillo "has worked in the food service industry, professional baseball player, mixed-martial artist, construction worker, farmer, mechanic, and worked in the Heating and Air Conditioning industry. Mr. Pittillo has also managed small businesses and large corporations alike. Having done most, not one individual can say that he does not relate to the blue-collar worker" (Pittillo website).

If Pittillo is a Trumpist, he's keeping it well hidden.

House District 115

Lindsey Prather

The John Ager seat in southern Buncombe. Dave's Redistricting scores it 53.6% Democratic, NCFree as D+4.

Ager's son Eric didn't end up running for this seat as he promised (see above), so the Democrat on the ballot is Lindsey Prather. Prather was for six years a public school teacher and then finished a Master's in Public Affairs at Western Carolina, and now works as assistant director of admissions at UNC-Asheville. She came to my attention by being endorsed by Pro-Choice NC.

Pratik Bhakta (R) immigrated with his parents from India in 1978 and was studying electrical engineering at NC State when family circumstances forced him home to Asheville to manage the family's motel.

Like Everett Pittillo above, Bhakta strikes a decidedly moderate tone on issues.

House District 116

Caleb Rudow

Brian Turner's current seat. Dave rates it 57.7% Democratic, NCFree as D+7.

This is where Democrat Caleb Rudow ended up running. He served in the Peace Corps in Zambia, and he's fluent in Spanish. He's a data scientist with a masters degree in Global Policy Studies from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Mollie Rose (R) is pretty invisible on-line, with no website nor Facebook nor Twitter account. The Buncombe GOP got her to list her policy positions, which contain a few significant dog whistles -- parental choice in schools (she's anti-CRT), responsible energy solutions, voter integrity, and compassionate fiscal responsibility which focuses on the true needs of hard working North Carolinians, while protecting our resources for the future."

BOTTOMLINE: Buncombe County is not a congenial piece of real estate from hard-right conservatives.

1 comment:

J.W. Williamson said...

I'm received this explanation for the confusing change in District numbers: Republicans changed the numbers but Eric Ager is running for his father John's old seat. Rudow was appointed to Susan Fisher's seat, but they changed the numbers. Lindsey Prather is running for Brian Turner's old seat.