The line for early voting extended out the door at the Henderson County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Elections officials say there has been a steady flow of people at most polling locations in both Henderson and Buncombe counties since early voting began on Oct. 18. Colby Rabon/Carolina Public Press

Let the games begin.

With a U.S. Senate race headlining what promises to be a spirited campaign season, things got rolling in Western North Carolina and across the state on Monday with the opening day for candidates to file for office. The filing period closes Feb. 28.

North Carolina’s Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, is seen as vulnerable in her bid for reelection in a race into which Americans for Prosperity is pouring $1.4 million in television advertising, linking Hagan with Obamacare.

Hagan will face Will Stewart and Fred Westphal in the May 6 Democratic primary. The Republican primary will pit perceived frontrunner state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis against Ted Alexander, Greg Brannon, Heather Grant, Mark Harris and Edward Kryn.

Throughout the 18 westernmost counties of North Carolina, there will be 11 races for seats in the state House of Representatives, nine of which are currently held by Republicans. There will also be five races for seats in the state Senate, four of which are held by Republicans.

Three Republicans will be running to keep their seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the districts that cover the western part of the state: Virginia Foxx in District 5, Patrick McHenry in District 10 and Mark Meadows in District 11.

The U.S. Senate race will certainly be the marquee event, with Republican strategists seeing Hagan’s seat as one of the most likely to flip to their side in the November election. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted in January found Hagan to be trailing Grant and Tillis by one percentage point and Brannon and Harris by two points.

The survey showed Tillis to be leading the primary field with 19 percent; Brannon and Grant were at 11 percent and Harris at 8 percent.

In Western North Carolina, state races are now showing the following candidates (as of Wednesday, Feb. 12). Links to campaign websites are provided and will be updated as more become available:

State House races

  • Incumbent Josh Dobson, a Republican from Nebo who was appointed to the state House District 85 seat when Mitch Gillespie resigned last year, has filed for reelection. District 85 covers Avery, McDowell and Mitchell counties. No challengers have yet filed.
  • Sue Counts, a Democrat from Boone, has filed to run for House District 93, comprising Ashe and Watauga counties. Republican Jonathan Jordan, of Jefferson, is the incumbent but has not yet filed.
  • No one has yet filed to run in House District 112, which covers Burke and Rutherford counties. Republican Mike Hager, of Rutherfordton, is the incumbent.
  • In House District 113, comprising Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties, incumbent Republican Chris Whitmire, of Rosman, has filed for reelection. No one else has yet filed.
  • House District 114 incumbent Democrat Susan Fisher, of Asheville, has not yet filed for reelection nor has anyone else. The district covers a portion of Buncombe County.
  • Incumbent Republican Nathan Ramsey, of Fairview, has not yet filed to run in House District 115, another Buncombe County district. But his neighbor, John Ager, a Democrat, filed on Monday. Ramsey has said he intends to run.
  • In House District 116, the third Buncombe County district, incumbent Republican Tim Moffitt, of Asheville, has not filed but has said he plans to run. Brian Turner, a Democrat from Asheville, filed to run on opening day.
  • House District 117 incumbent Chuck McGrady, of Hendersonville, has announced that he will run for reelection to represent Henderson County. He will be opposed in the Republican primary by Ronnie Edwards, of Mills River.
  • Incumbent Republican Michele Presnell, of Burnsville, filed to once again represent House District 118, covering Haywood, Madison and Yancey counties. Dean Hicks, a Democrat, also of Burnsville, has also filed to run.
  • In House District 119, covering Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties, incumbent Democrat Joe Sam Queen, of Waynesville, has not yet filed but has indicated he intends to run. Mike Clampitt, a Republican from Bryson City, has filed.
  • House District 120 incumbent Republican Roger West, of Marble, will run for reelection to represent Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Macon counties. No one else has yet filed.

State Senate races

  • In Senate District 45, Josh Brannon, a Democrat from Vilas, has filed to run. Incumbent Republican Dan Soucek, of Boone, has not yet filed. District 45 covers Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell and Watauga counties.
  • In Senate District 47 – covering Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford and Yancey counties – Michael Lavender, a McDowell county commissioner, has filed to run in the Republican primary. Incumbent Republican Ralph Hise, of Spruce Pine, has not yet filed.
  • Democrat Rick Wood, of Hendersonville, has filed to run for election in Senate District 48, which includes Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties. Incumbent Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Hendersonville, has not yet filed for reelection but has indicated he intends to run.
  • Incumbent Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat from Asheville, has not yet filed to again represent Buncombe County in Senate District 49, nor has anyone else filed.
  • In Senate District 50 – which covers Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties – incumbent Republican Jim Davis, a Republican from Franklin, filed for reelection. Ron Robinson, a Democrat from Sylva, has also filed.

U.S. House races

  • In U.S. House District 10, Republican Patrick McHenry will seek reelection. He’ll face Richard Lynch, of Belmont, in the Republican primary. Tate MacQueen, of Asheville, has filed to run in the Democratic primary.
  • In U.S. House District 11, Republican Mark Meadows will seek reelection. Keith Ruehl, a Democrat from Barnardsville, also filed.
  • In U.S. House District 5, Republican Virginia Foxx, has filed for reelection. Philip Doyle, of Clemmons, has filed to run against her in the primary.

Learn More

How to register to vote or update your voter registration in North Carolina

How to file to be a candidate for office

Find your current representatives and voting district

State Board of Elections candidate listing [PDF]

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Taylor Sisk is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press. Reach him at

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