The 11th Congressional District Democratic Primary was probably the most visible race, with three solid candidates all garnering respectable vote totals; victor Phillip Price, D-Nebo, soundly defeated runner-up Steve Woodsmall by more than 9 percent and third place finisher Dr. Scott Donaldson by more than 12 percent. Price won every county in the district except for Henderson and Transylvania counties, and will go on to face incumbent Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, in November.
In Haywood County, two important county-level primary races — one Republican, one Democrat — also appear to have winners.
Incumbent Haywood Clerk of Courts Hunter Plemmons ran away with his three-way primary, easily besting second place finisher Eddie West, who bested Jim Moore by 4 percent. Plemmons took almost 65 percent of the vote, and won 26 of 29 precincts. As no Republican signed up to run, Plemmons is unopposed in November and will retain the office he was appointed to last fall.
According to some, the elected position of Haywood County tax collector shouldn’t even exist, but it does, and in his effort to return to his post, incumbent Republican Mike Matthews survived a primary challenge by first-timer Andrew “Tubby” Ferguson.
“I’m so appreciative for the overwhelming support and encouragement I received during the primary from both Democrats and Republicans,” Matthews said. “The Tax Office and my campaign has great momentum going and I’m excited about building on that and carrying it through November.”
Matthews won by a comfortable 7 percent margin, but that margin consists of just 133 votes. Ferguson won a number of precincts, albeit by slim margins. Matthews will go on to face Democrat Greg West in November.
There is no comfortable margin, however, for Phillip Wight. The Maggie Valley Alderman with the controversial “Vote for the Wight Guy” signs has, as of press time, eked out a three-vote margin over fourth-place finisher Terry Ramey in the Republican County Commissioner race; the top three candidates will advance to the November General Election and will face Democrats Danny Davis, Kirk Kirkpatrick and Mike Sorrells.
As to whether the signs helped or hurt Wight, he said wasn’t sure.
“It was never meant to be taken out of context,” he said. “I’m happy for the people that voted. It was all a roll of the dice. It’s just all about name recognition and advertising.”
Tommy Long led the field, followed by Mark Pless. Official results are expected next week.