Despite an overwhelming Republican landslide in the 2010 congressional election, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-Waynesville) beat back challenger Jeff Miller of Hendersonville in the 11th District to win this third term in Congress.
Shuler, however, who had much more money than his opponent throughout the campaign, will go back to Washington as a member of the minority party. CNN was reporting at 11 p.m. Nov. 2 that Republicans took control of the House on Election Day by winning as many as 50 of the seats up for grabs.
The Shuler-Miller race, however, was not even that close. Shuler won by a 54 to 46 percent margin.
“I’m not too surprised about the Shuler/Miller race,” said Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper. “He was ahead in every poll I saw. He had the former president stumping for him. He is a conservative Democrat in a district dominated by conservative Democrats. Add to that he had excellent name recognition and has all the benefits of incumbency, and even in a Republican year, he was unlikely to lose.”
Shuler is a Bryson City native and former University of Tennessee and NFL quarterback who unseated the powerful Charles Taylor in the 2006 election. In Washington he has aligned himself with Blue Dog coalition, a caucus of moderate-to-conservative House Democrats.
Shuler’s opponent was Jeff Miller, a small businessman who started the Honor Air movement which flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorial to that war. He earned a lot of respect during the campaign for staying focused on delivering his message rather than attacking Shuler.