Hendersonville – Three-term State Sen. Chuck Edwards is gaining supporters and momentum in his bid to be the Republican candidate for the local congressional seat.
Edwards mingled with dozens of business owners and others Feb. 16 in a campaign “kickoff” in Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville.
Congressional primaries are May 17. N.C. Republican congressional candidates debate Saturday, March 26, 1-4 p.m. in Blue Ridge Community College’s Bo Thomas Auditorium. The audience can submit written questions. The Henderson County Republican Men’s Club sponsors this debate.
Edwards told the group that in politically “broken” Washington, he will achieve what he does in Raleigh — “cut your taxes, and run government (much more) efficiently” and responsibly. He said with his legislative know-how, “I will hit the ground running — and make a difference” in national policies.
He vowed to protect rights of gun ownership and the unborn, oppose flooding of unscreened immigrants across the Mexican border and into “sanctuary cities” that also have drug-infested homeless enclaves. He pledged to “fight the liberal agenda” and “take your voice and stick it” to woke radicals. “We can’t give up” the fight, he said. “I love these mountains” and grounded values here.
He thanked donors’ “incredible support and generosity.”
Edwards, 61, a West Henderson alumnus, serves N.C. Senate District 48. It represents Henderson and Transylvania counties and southern Buncombe. That area comprises about half of registered voters in the district. He won a third term in 2020 by 59-41 percent.
Edwards told the Tribune what issues are most on minds of citizens he talks to across the district. “People have a huge concern about security across our southern border” with the ongoing open border policy letting people enter in droves and unscreened for COVID and criminal and terrorist records. “Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi have their heads in the sand” on such issues.
A hotter flash point is over “skyrocketing inflation” such as in costs of groceries, gasoline and heating fuel, Edwards said. “Inflation has grown due to policies” — notably runaway social spending. That was offset by printing more money, which devalues the dollar and fuels inflation.
Further, he said the Biden administration should reverse its shutting down the 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. This would increase flow of crude by estimated 830,000 barrels daily. Greater oil supply generally lowers prices.
The U.S. should also “open federal lands to more oil exploration and maximize domestic production” to restore “energy independence,” he said. He wants the nation again a “net exporter of oil, not dependent on foreign supply.” OPEC refuses to increase production, thereby keeping prices and its profits higher.
More oil produced in the U.S. can “avoid an economic crisis for Americans, and provide relief to European countries while undermining Putin’s strategy … to control Europe by controlling major oil supplies,” Edwards said. Russia invaded Eastern Ukraine this week. Edwards supports sanctions such as to shut down the latest Russian pipeline into Germany. Germany cooperated, by decertifying it.
“First in Afghanistan and now in Russia,” Edwards told the Tribune, “Joe Biden’s weak policies continue to produce disasters at home and abroad.”
Edwards also ripped how “Democrats are trying to nationalize elections” with their pending bill, and how banning voter IDs enables potential election fraud.
Edwards is displeased the “liberal” leaning N.C. Supreme Court rejected redistricting across the state, by saying it favored Republicans. The court required three new optional maps, which the GOP-led General Assembly (G.A.) finalized last Thursday, and submitted Friday. Edwards drove to Raleigh at 4 a.m. Thursday to toil “diligently” on that task.
Judges and three experts they appointed will review plans from legislators and also advocacy groups. The G.A. redrawn maps provide greatly competitive districts in four of 14 congressional districts.
Edwards expects the finalized plan to “change a little bit” from the current map with the state’s new 14th District in WNC. WNC might revert to the 11th District. If so and if its current U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn runs again, then it could split votes. Edwards told the Tribune he will stay in the race.
Several who attended told the Tribune they view Chuck Edwards as the strongest candidate, even over arch-conservative Cawthorn.
Tom Shipman is the longtime proprietor of The Cedars, which is transforming into a hotel complex in Hendersonville. He describes Sen. Edwards as “honest, for the people, down to earth” and reliable. “When Chuck tells you he’ll do something, he’ll do it. He’s a go-getter.”
Edwards is a “workhorse, relentless and never quits,” said Jim Hysong, a retired giftware retail salesman. “He goes after it!”
“He’s a problem solver,” who makes time for constituents, Trudi Walend said. She was a state rep in 1999-2012 for the district that includes southern Henderson County. Her husband Ken Walend was her chief of staff. He noted Edwards is “collaborative” working with moderate Democrats.
Rep. Jake Johnson serves in the seat Walend held. He said Edwards “stood up to Gov. Roy Cooper. He’ll take the same fight against Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.” He said Edwards “embodies the American Dream” for working from burger server (at $2.30 hourly) to owning seven area McDonald restaurants.
Longtime former local state Rep. Chuck McGrady said of the other Chuck, “we carried each other’s bills” through the legislative process. He backs Edwards from “my experience working with him and for his (conservative) values.” He said Edwards has a “proven record of success” as a legislator, as a business owner knows how “government needs to run more efficiently,” is sharp in “solving problems,” and is “hard working and stays on task.”
Edwards thinks outside of the box, McGrady said. “He doesn’t always accept conventional wisdom. He’s quick to ask critical questions.”
Edwards thinks with “plain ‘ole common sense,” retired auto dealer Jeff Egolf told the Tribune. He said Edwards finds logical solutions. His son Jay Egolf, who owns Egolf Motors, likes how Edwards worked his way up in business. “He’s one of us. That’s what makes him so special.”
For more on Sen. Edwards’ campaign, check: https://www.chuckedwardsforcongress.com.