By Jesse Wood
Sept. 29, 2014. With less than two weeks to register to vote in the general election and early voting less than a month away, the local Republican and Democratic parties are stepping their campaign-activity up a notch.
Just this past weekend, the Watauga County Republican Party held its annual barbecue and sponsored a cross-county caravan tour for local GOP candidates to meet residents and the Watauga County Democratic Party held its annual fall rally at ASU that featured N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper as the keynote speaker.
“We’ve actually started getting rocking and rolling the last little bit,” said Davis Paine, a regional field rep for the N.C. Republican House Caucus. “I think we’ve got a good thing going, and I feel like we should have a pretty successful campaign for a few of the Republicans running.”
Paine’s response came after he was told of comments Jack Sherman, an 86-year-old conservative who described himself as a “low-level volunteer” at the local GOP headquarters, made to High Country Press on Friday. Sherman said he’s seen less energy locally from conservatives than he has in the past 20 years that he’s lived in the High Country.
“I don’t see much energy, so it’s not focused. I hate to say this, maybe we’ll get going. I think the Democrats are going. They got their signs out in a hurry and ours are still sitting in the office and nobody’s putting them up,” Sherman said. “… I hope you will write a scathing article that Republicans read [for motivation]. We better get busy and get on it or say Madame President in a few years.”
As for Paine, he noted the GOP events of the prior weekend and mentioned that the local GOP headquarters, located at 149 Meadowview Drive, just added Wi-Fi and recently extended its hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Paine said that the Watauga County Republican Party has attracted some college Republicans to knock on doors and make phone calls to get out the vote.
While mentioning that all of the local Republican candidates have a “good shot” at winning, Paine noted in particular the races between N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Sue Counts, and Sheriff Len Hagaman and Randy Townsend.
“I feel pretty good about Jonathan Jordan and actually feel really good about Randy Townsend running for sheriff,” Paine said, acknowledging that the name recognition of Hagaman will be a hurdle.
Paine added that his comment focusing on Jordan and Townsend wasn’t to take away from the other GOP candidates, for example those running for the Watauga County Board of Commissioners. Paine said he’s just happened to cross paths with Townsend on the campaign trail more so than others as of late.
In the end, Paine said his main pitch is to encourage all people – regardless of party affiliation – to “really get involved and get to know all the candidates down to the local level because at the end of the day those positions are what really affect the people in Ashe and Watauga County the most,” Paine said. “… Get informed, get involved and go out to vote.”
Across town, the Watauga County Democratic Party has its headquarters based in the old BeansTalk Coffeehouse in downtown Boone on King Street, across the street from Appalachian State University. On Friday, a volunteer at the local Democratic headquarters referred questions to Ian O’Keefe, coordinated campaign manager for the WCDP.
As Paine also noted, O’Keefe mentioned the difficulty of motivating people to get to the polls during mid-term elections, ones that don’t feature a presidential race.
“We are really gearing up our efforts to talk to a lot of voters,” O’Keefe said, adding that this includes phone banking and canvassing.
O’Keefe said the local Democratic Party is telling people how to vote, where to vote and who they should vote for.
“We want to make sure they know about our candidates and the process of voting. We are really doing a lot of GOTV [get out the vote] calls,” O’Keefe said. “We are obviously working for all Democrats.”
While O’Keefe said his fellow Democrats are focused “across the board, up and down the ballot,” he mentioned that there is a big push around Sue Counts, former director of the Watauga County Cooperative Extension. Counts, as noted earlier, is running against incumbent N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan for the 93rd District in the N.C. House.
“She’s been a public servant and plans to continue that in the N.C. House, which is a big priority for us. So it’s important that Democrats are elected up and down the ticket – all the way from sheriff to school board and up to Senate with the Kay Hagan race,” O’Keefe said.
As for motivation, O’Keefe said that from what he is hearing from potential voters on the phones and in person, people are excited about going to the polls and voting to show their “discontent” with what’s been happening at the local and state level.
“People are upset and nobody is happy with what’s coming out of Raleigh. The GOP has done a great job of alienating moderate voters in this county and across the state – cuts to education, rolling back environmental protection laws with no real job creation,” O’Keefe said. “People are definitely excited to go out and vote and excited to show their discontent with the radical Republican agenda in Raleigh.”
Of course, if you were to look at the fliers current Speaker of the N.C. House Thom Tillis, who is running against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, is sending out, you would see these boxes checked off for Tillis’ “Record of Results We Can Trust:”
- Raised Teacher Pay by an Average of 7 percent
- Cut Regulations to Spur Growth
- Lowered Personal Income Taxes for Every North Carolinian
- Helped Make N.C. One of the Best States to Create New Jobs
The last day to register to vote is Oct. 10. To register to vote, contact the Watauga County Board of Elections at 828-265-8061.
Early voting runs from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 4.
The Watauga County Republican Party Headquarters, which can be reached by phone at 828-386-1311, is located at 149 Meadowview Drive.
The Watauga County Democratic Party Headquarters is located at 352 West King Street and can be reached at [email protected].
See dates and events concerning the general election in November. See sample ballots for Watauga County here.
Important Dates, Events for November Election
Tuesday, Sept. 30: Watauga County Board of Commissioners candidate recreation forum at auditorium of Watauga Medical Center. Forum starts at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 2 – N.C. Association of Educators-sponsored forum of school board and commissioner candidates in Watauga at Hardin Park School from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 7 – N.C. Association of Educators-sponsored forum of N.C. House and Senate Candidates at Cove Creek School from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 10 – Registration to vote in general election ends at 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 14 – N.C. Association of Educators-sponsored forum of N.C. House and Senate Candidates at Hardin Park School from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 20 – N.C. Association of Educators-sponsored forum of school board and commissioner candidates in Watauga at Cove Creek School from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 21 – Boone Area Chamber hosts “Meet the Candidates” forum at Watauga County Courthouse. All candidates for local, state and federal offices have been invited. Event starts at 5 p.m. See schedule and more info here.
Thursday, Oct. 23 – One–Stop Early Voting Begins for General Election
Saturday, Nov. 1 – One–Stop Early Voting Ends for General Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4 – General Election Day, Polls open from 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Early Voting Sites and Times
Watauga County Administration Building
- Thursday, Oct. 23, at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 27 – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 28 – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 29 – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Thursday, Oct. 30 – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 31 – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Nov. 1 – 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Times for All Other Voting Sites:
Blowing Rock Town Hall, Deep Gap VFD, Meat Camp VFD and Western Watauga Community Center
- Thursday, Oct. 23 – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 24 – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 27 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 28 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 29 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Thursday, Oct. 30 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 31 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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