NC-11 Congressional District
2nd down and 2 to go?
NC-11 is North Carolina’s western most district. The largest city is Asheville, (population approximately 75,000) and the surrounding counties are mostly rural.
The 11th District is represented by Heath Shuler, (D) just elected for a 2nd term by a 62% – 36% margin. Before Mr. Shuler, the seat was held for 16 years by Charles Taylor, (R). Prior to that, the seat switched parties five times between 1978 and 1990.
Mr. Taylor was defeated by Mr. Shuler in 2006. Factors included accusations of corruption on the part of Mr. Taylor, and general disgruntlement with the Republican brand nationwide. Other factors included Mr. Shuler’s strategy to align himself with the “Blue Dog” Democrats, who positioned themselves as more conservative Democrats, and Mr. Shuler’s wide name recognition in the district as an accomplished high school quarterback, later continued at the University of Tennessee. Mr. Shuler also participated in the National Football League with the Washington Redskins.
Outside of Asheville, this is a generally conservative district, which should be competitive for a good conservative candidate. However, Mr. Shuler in 2008 extended his power of incumbency, which will be more and more difficult to overcome over time. This came about largely because Mr. Shuler did not do anything to upset the district during his first term, and because there was not a strong field of candidates to contest him.
Mr. Shuler was opposed in 2008 by Dr. Carl Mumpower, an Asheville city councilman, who won a primary over two candidates who had not yet held elected office. Dr. Mumpower ran on a campaign of principles, refusing money from PACs, as well as from the Republican Party. By design, Dr. Mumpower raised little money, and got most of his publicity badgering local Republicans about returning to core values. Right or wrong, Dr. Mumpower’s principled self remains at home in Asheville, while Mr. Shuler prepares shortly to vote to re-elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
One other unfortunate by-product of the lightly contested race is that Mr. Shuler was forced to spend little money defending his seat, presumably putting himself in better financial position for 2010. I don’t recall hearing a single radio or TV ad for Mr. Shuler the entire campaign.
There is some discussion already that Mr. Shuler may run for Richard Burr’s Senate seat in 2010.
Shuler for Senate?
Also see: dld1717’s diary:
Barring that, I believe it will take a massive failure of the Democratic Congress and Presidency to unseat Mr. Shuler. (Which is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.) Otherise, he has the name recognition, and it will take a lot of money to counter that, whoever the candidate turns out to be. He has shown so far an ability not to be perceived as too far left. His next opponent will want to tie him to Speaker Pelosi, from whom Mr. Shuler tries to distance himself in public.
One potential candidate reported to be considering a bid is retired 3 term Henderson County Sheriff George Ervin. Also, the Hendersonville Times-News had an online poll recently asking readers to choose from 7 different potential Republican candidates for 2010. I don’t know how they arrived at the list, or if any of those listed are actually considering running.
[Times-News GOP poll 2010]