Legislative races, a primer- what seats are up, who’s running, and what district do I vote in?

N.C. House of Representatives, seat 118

Is this my state rep? Yes, if you live in Madison and Yancey counties and part of Haywood — namely Canton, Clyde, Bethel, Cruso, Maggie Valley, Jonathan Creek and Crabtree areas.

Is there a primary? No Democratic or Republican primary.

About the race: This is a slightly Democratic-leaning district and was held by the popular and effective leader Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill, for more than a decade. But Rapp lost in 2012. It surprised politicos on both sides of the aisle. Rapp’s loss was chalked up to collateral damage in the Republican landslide in North Carolina that year. Despite the Democratic Party begging Rapp to run for his old seat, he didn’t want to reenter politics. 

About the candidates:

• N.C. Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, is running for reelection after her first term. She is a small business owner. Presnell previously ran on a platform that included lowering taxes, requiring voter I.D., expanding gun rights, restricting abortion, and reducing regulations — and she delivered. 

“I am proud to be able to say that I made promises during my 2012 campaign, and I kept those promises,” Presnell said.


• Dean Hicks, D-Burnsville is challenging Presnell. Hicks, a Yancey native and a retired teacher and coach, served three terms as a Yancey County commissioner. The candidate lists education reform as his top priority. 

“I feel like we’ve lost 50-plus years of progress in the last year,” Hicks said. “That is my main goal, is to try to get education back on the right track.”


N.C. House of Representatives, seat 119

Is this my state rep? Yes, if you live in Jackson and Swain counties and part of Haywood  — namely Waynesville and Lake Junaluska.

Is there a primary? There is a primary for Republicans, but not Democrats.

About the race: The seat in this left-leaning House district has long belonged to a Democrat. In 2012, the seat came up for grabs with the retirement of long-time legislator Phil Haire of Sylva after 14 years. A fellow Democratic statesman picked up the torch — one of the only Democrats elected to the legislature in the mountains two years ago.

Democratic Candidates

• N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, is running for reelection. Queen, an architect and businessman, is serving his first term in the N.C. House. But Queen has previously served three terms in the N.C. Senate over the past decade. Queen, who is married to a doctor and has two grown children, is a long-time civic leader in Haywood County and has served on many community organizations, including heritage and cultural organizations, as well as being involved in environmental and business initiatives.


GOP Candidates:

• Dodie Allen, an auctioneer for the past 30 years, runs Dodie’s Auction in Sylva. The 79-year-old is seeking the House seat because she believes “that we are pulling further and further away from our constitution.”

• Mike Clampitt, a Republican from Bryson City, ran against Queen for the House seat two years ago but lost. Clampitt served 28 years as fire captain with the Charlotte Fire Department and returned to his hometown of Bryson City 10 years ago.


• Aaron Littlefield, 22, is a political science student at WCU and server at Bear Lake Reserve, who is graduating this May. He wants to be “a voice for the struggling business of WNC, support higher standards in education, and fight back against corruption in our government.”


N.C. House of Representatives, seat 120

Is this my state rep? Yes, if you live in Macon, Clay, Graham and Cherokee counties

Is there a primary? No Democratic or Republican Primary

About the race: The indefatigueable and apparently untouchable N.C. Rep. Roger West, R-Murphy, will once again run for this seat unopposed. 


N.C. Senate, seat 50

Is this my state senator? Yes, if you live in anywhere in the seven western counties of Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Graham, Clay and Cherokee.

Is there a primary?

About the race: The district is fairly evenly split, with neither the Republicans or Democrats able to claim a real leg up. The seat has flip-flopped between Republicans and Democrats twice in the past decade.

The race for this state Senate seat from the far western mountains usually is a local affair, but it garnered national media attention in 2010 and 2012 as a poster child for the flood of outside money from right-wing groups to influence regional races — allegedly part of a larger, far-reaching strategy to bankroll local campaigns as a way to amass state conservative majorities.  

N.C. Senator Jim Davis, R- Franklin, won the seat narrowly in 2010 by unseating the Democratic incumbent John Snow. Snow ran to get his seat back in 2012, but didn’t come close.

Nearly $1 million was spent by Davis’ campaign and by outside groups on Davis’ behalf in the 2012 election.

GOP candidate:

•N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, is an orthodontist and two-term legislator. 

Democratic candidates

• Jane Hipps of Waynesville is a retired public educator with six degrees, including three master’s degrees. Her expertise was in science and math curriculum development and training. She has promised to make education one of her main areas of concern if elected. She is the widow of a former state senator and long-time district attorney in the region.

• Ron Robinson of Cullowhee is a management consultant who says the current GOP leadership in Raleigh does not represent the working people of the district and has called their policies extremist. 


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