Franklin orthodontist Jim Davis has held the District 50 seat in the N.C. Senate since 2010, when the legislature flipped to a Republican majority for the first time in more than 100 years. But if Jane Hipps, a retired educator and certified nurse practioner from Haywood County, has her way, she’ll be the one representing District 50 come January.

election timeAlthough the upcoming general election has much of the nation’s attention focused on just two candidates — a controversial populist and a former Secretary of State under investigation for mishandling classified material — local races offer considerably more palatable choices that will have a direct impact on the lives of area residents. 

Last fall’s election is barely in the rearview mirror, but battle lines are already being staked out for 2016.

And voters may be looking at a rematch for the state senate seat that sprawls from Waynesville to Murphy, spanning seven mountain counties. Both N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, and challenger Jan Hipps, D-Waynesville, say they will run again in two years.

fr hippsEditor’s note: The Smoky Mountain News spent a day with Jane Hipps, a Democratic challenger running for the state Senate seat spanning the seven western counties.

8:40 A.M.

Jane Hipps was getting a later-than-normal start on the campaign trail, unless you count the cards she passed out at her crack-of-dawn dentist appointment. In a proud moment of positive thinking, Hipps had diligently made her next dentist appointment as she left, for 7:30 a.m.

A candidate debate last week between N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, and challenger Jane Hipps, D-Waynesville, plowed a lot of ground. Education, Medicaid, and fracking were the biggies, but the 90-minute debate ran the gamut, touching on government spending, guns, charter schools, teacher salaries, higher ed, and so much more.

A debate between N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, and his challenger Jane Hipps, D-Waynesville, last week was lively, testy, heated, fiery and passionate — and that’s just talking about the audience.

Despite ground rules laid down by the moderator at the start of the debate expressly prohibiting cheering and jeering alike, the electrified audience had the air of spectators at a sporting event. With a crowd of 300 strong, it was a better turn out than expected for the third and final debate in the inaugural debate series hosted by the Western Carolina University Public Policy Institute and political science department.

fr davisN.C. Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, is known for his direct and unapologetic communication style, but it landed him in hot water with some audience members at a debate held at Western Carolina University last week.

Davis made a reference during the debate to the large percentage of African-American children born to unwed mothers, which in turn made them more likely than the general population to end up in jail.

fr jimdavisTwo candidates battling for the state Senate seat representing the seven western counties are heading into the homestretch of what could be a close and hard-fought race.

fr hippsJane Hipps was quickly anointed front-runner status in the Democratic primary for N.C. Senate — from the day she entered the race, in fact — but the victory she pulled out was the epitome of a clean sweep.

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