Carolina Journal News Reports
RALEIGH — Republican Nathan Ramsey is promoting his track record of bipartisanship as he campaigns against Asheville Democrat Susan Wilson to represent the left-leaning state House District 115. But Ramsey, a former Buncombe County commissioner, may surprise in the battle for this open seat in the General Assembly.
Like Ramsey, Wilson, an attorney, is placing job creation at the top of her priorities as she seeks support in the Nov. 6 general election.
Under the redistricting plan approved last year by state lawmakers, Democrats hold a strong registration lead in Buncombe County, and the district is listed as leaning Democratic, according to the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation.
But a Civitas poll taken Aug. 18-19 found Ramsey leading 49-43 percent in the district, which is 94.3 percent white and had 60,223 registered voters as of Aug. 7.
Registered Democrats, many of them college students, represent 38.9 percent of N.C. House District 115 voters; Republicans account for 31.5 percent of registered voters. Unaffiliated voters make up another 29.3 percent. Libertarians account for the remaining 0.3 percent.
House District 115 is a must-win if Democrats hope to regain control of the lower house of the General Assembly. In 2010, Republicans won a majority in both houses for the first time in 114 years.
The District 115 seat opened when House lawmakers redrew its boundaries, eliminating one of Buncombe County's three state House districts. The process left Buncombe County Democratic Reps. Susan Fisher and Patsy Keever double-bunked. Fisher chose to run in House District 114; Keever is running in the 10th U.S. Congressional District.
In addition to 30 open seats, 51 N.C. House races were uncontested, and 34 incumbents elected not to seek re-election this year. About 190 candidates are competing for the 73 seats in the state House; another 47 candidates automatically won seats in the state House because they were uncontested in the general election.
Like his conservative counterparts across the Tar Heel State, Ramsey supports training the work force to compete in the 21st century economy. His legislative priorities include streamlining state government, and policies that will encourage job creation.
"As chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners from 2000-08, I was recognized by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners for working to find bipartisan solutions," Ramsey told Carolina Journal.
"I am the only candidate in the North Carolina House 115 race that has a proven record of working with people of different political affiliations to improve our schools, attract jobs to our community, and solve problems," Ramsey said.
Ramsey cites improving the economy as the most important issue that people in his district face this year.
"In speaking to folks across the district, many families and businesses are struggling to survive, and they want solutions so businesses can start growing and hiring employees," he said.
A dairy farmer and attorney, Ramsey has served on the board of trustees for the University of North Carolina at Asheville since 2009.
Ramsey's previous public experience includes: The Montreat College Board of Visitors, Asheville Chamber of Commerce Board, Economic Development Coalition, Buncombe County Board of Health, Partners in Education, Asheville-Buncombe Drug Commission, Community Energy Advisory Committee, Smart Start of Buncombe County, and the Asheville/Buncombe Regional Water Authority.
Ramsey graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 1989 and the University of Tennessee College of Law with honors in 1992.
Repeated attempts to contact Wilson for comment were unsuccessful. But according to her campaign material, Wilson is running on a platform that also features job creation as the top priority.
Buncombe County had 7.6 percent unemployment as of July, the most recent period for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics has provided county data.
Like her Republican opponent, Wilson supports public/private partnerships to stimulate economic growth. She vows to ensure equal rights for all regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious/spiritual faith, or socioeconomic status.
An attorney specializing in family law, Wilson previously worked with the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, for which she prosecuted child support, juvenile abuse, and neglect cases. She has worked in private practice since 2002.
Wilson holds a bachelor's degree in humanities from Emory University along with a master's in journalism and a law degree from the University of Georgia. Wilson ran unsuccessfully for District Court judge in 2002 and 2006.
Ramsey's campaign had $8,230 on hand at the end of the second quarter, and Wilson's had no cash on hand, according to quarterly statements filed with the N.C. Board of Elections.
Kristy Bailey is a contributor to Carolina Journal.