Asheville – Hundreds of GOP faithfuls from across the state of North Carolina gathered in Asheville for the 28th Annual Charles Taylor Christmas Dinner Saturday evening (December 11). Taylor represented North Carolina’s 11th congressional district (now the 14th district) from 1991 to 2007.
Taylor, 80, first ran for congress in 1988 against incumbent James McClure Clark losing by about 1,500 votes. In a 1990 rematch, Taylor beat Clark by about 2,700 votes to take and hold the seat until 2007, when Taylor lost to Democrat Heath Shuler.
The event raises funds for GOP candidates and allows republicans to network and get their message out to key political players in the Grand Old Party. Saturday’s event was no different. From US Senate hopefuls ready to fill the seat about to be vacated by Richard Burr, who has chosen not to run for office this time around, to Buncombe County sheriff and state representative candidates, many offered reasons for party members to support their candidacy.
American Eagle Award
The event is also a time when the former congressman recognizes a GOP member by presenting them the American Eagle Award Winner, which is awarded to an individual who Taylor believes does an outstanding job in representing the party’s values. This year’s recipient is Yancey County Sheriff Kermit Banks, who is in his ninth term as sheriff. Past recipients were Cherokee Chief Michell Hicks, Madison County resident Bruce Briggs, Erwin Hills resident Mike Summey and Leicester resident Forest Jarrett to name a few.
Over dinner, the crowd was addressed by several speakers. First was NC State Treasurer Dale Folwell, followed by NC House Speaker Tim Moore, who told the crowd that the state finally has a budget after about three years without one, even though the state constitution requires one. He also said that Democrats have fought against the voter ID bill, even though 61 percent of residents voted for the bill when it was on the ballot a few years ago.
Next to speak were candidates for the US Senate. Congressman Ted Budd, who President Donald Trump has endorsed, was the first to speak. Budd is a small business owner who runs a gun store and training center in Davie County. He was followed by former Governor Pat McCrory, who lost his job as governor to the current Gov. Roy Cooper. McCrory began his career with Duke Energy, then was voted in as Mayor of Charlotte before running and winning the governor’s seat. Both touted their accomplishments and endorsements before pitching to the group reasons for their support. Last to speak was Congressman Mark Walker, who admitted he came to North Carolina from Alabama for a girl, but by the time he got here, she had moved on. Rather than turning around and heading back, he stayed and, while in Bible College, met his wife. He became a pastor for 16 years before running for congress.
Taylor, who suffered a stroke after a horse-riding accident, kept his remarks short, basically saying the GOP had a good group of candidates running and urged all present to get out and vote for them. He then thanked everyone for coming and wished all a Merry Christmas.
Full Disclosure: Tribune founder David Morgan and his family have also been an American Eagle Award Winner.