A street scene, decorated with the signs of businesses that have been forced to shut down under Charles Taylor's tenure, served as the parking lot for Heath Shuler's enormous fundraising pep rally at Blue Ridge Motion Picture Studios in Asheville. Over 400 guests filled an immense soundstage to pledge their support, see old friends, eat some sweet western barbecue, and watch former Governor Jim Hunt introduce Democrat Heath Shuler. I took dozens of pictures, none of which are good enough to post here. Note to self: put someone else in charge of pictures.
All but the VIPs wore nametags and Shuler stickers. The mood, lifted by Shuler's old band, the ChillBillies, was casual but serious. These Democrats are deeply moved by the failures of Charles Taylor, and they're really, really ready to win. Governor Hunt leaned in to tell me, with a penetrating gravity, to "work my head off". There was very little media at the event. It was a day for the faithful to receive inspiration and hope.
NC House Candidate Doug Jones, Democratic candidate for Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan, State Senator John Snow, Congressman John Tanner, Governor Hunt, and Shuler's extended family were all in attendance.
Governor Hunt, who has a lot of politicking left in him, began his introduction by recalling that he began every one of his campaigns in western North Carolina. He took Charles Taylor and the Republican Party to task for Iraq, health care, scandal, the environment, education, and debt. At the end of each scathingly pointed observation, Hunt drove home the message of every Congressional challenger, "It's time for a change".
Heath took the podium and spoke slowly about the plight of the working poor and elderly in the district, describing a minimum wage family and a donut hole grandparent in the same hungry predicament with similarly lousy choices. Then he leaned into the speech, which I recorded, transcribing these excerpts:
"Here's what we can do about it. We have an opportunity November 7th to stop the corruption in Congress. We have an opportunity to place a vote and have an early retirement for a member of Congress."
"Wouldn't it be great if everyone in western district, everyone in the United States, everyone in North Carolina would have adequate, affordable health care?
Wouldn't it be great to not have dependence on the middle east for foreign oil?
Even better yet, wouldn't it be great if here in western North Carolina a district that we could be a district that would start providing alternative energy sources. This could be the Research Triangle for alternative energy sources. Right here in western North Carolina."
"Finding a way to protect our mountains is so imporatant. It is an asset that God has given us, and we must be good stewards of our land. We must do all that we can to protect - If you haven't seen the movie, Inconvenient Truth, go see the movie. Governor, you led the way, and I accept that baton. I want to help to help us and help the people of this district provide for our families, our environment, a great place to work."
"Think about those kids getting out of college. If it's your children or your grandchildren, where are they going to work? Is it going to be Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, or right here in western North Carolina? Let's do all we can to provide for our children."
"It's so humbling to see so many people tonight. Whether it be my family, cousins, aunts, teachers, coaches, people I've come to know in recent years...and I am so blessed to have so many friends and family and new acquaintances and constituents to come."
"[My grandmother] said, "Heath, when's the best time to plant a tree?" I said, "Grandma, I have no idea." She said, "It was thirty years ago."
Then she asked me, "Heath, when's the second best to plant a tree?" I said, "I don't know Grandma. She said, "Today."
And I second that note to self: Maybe SD will go along and be your Jimmy Olsen the next time! Thanks for the good report. I love that tree story.
Great, great story
It sounds like it was a wonderful event. I'm so happy, but Hunt is right. We can't stop working on these races. Incumbency is a powerful thing and it will take every bit of effort we give to help Heath and Larry win in November.
Click on the hat to see all Citizen Journalist files
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.
Yeah, the pictures... no bueno. But I hope to have some fresh Heath images very soon.
Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us
so, shuler actually *was* a chillbilly?
i thought that was just playful stage banter!
great writeup, screwy!
(also, i think someone from wlos was there - ashvegas said that he spotted you on the 11:00 news that night!)
Good to see Shuler's environmental focus
My family used to travel to the Pisgah National Forest every summer; I love North Carolina's mountain wilderness and was shocked to learn that the Congressman from that area, Taylor, does not feel the same way.
Even if you have no pic taking talents Screwy,
you make up for it in reporting! Great article. I love Asheville and the western part of NC and imho, it needs all the protection it can get!
That area is not only a state treasure, but a national treasure! We need representatives that recognize this and will be committed to protecting it. It is not the "sole property" of the Republicans who think that everything is for sale and to be exploited!
Awesome write up!
Glad you could may it screwy! Excellent piece of reporting and I'd rec'd you to forward it to some of Western NC's local papers. Atleast part of his transcript and pictures may work in a "non partisan" paper.
Be just, and fear not.
Our children need to know that some people fought back, when others collaborated.
Good One Screwy!..
Now Im really feeling sick about not getting to come. But as Hayden says, they will be more. And you mentioning the Chillbillies really did bring old memories floodin it as their Drummer Teddy Phillips and I grew up together, I am 4 years older but we just lived about mabie a half mile apart if that much. In his bio i was part of the high school group that played together. Teddy was a really good football player too! Oh, The Graham Co, Democrat BBQ which Heath,John Snow and others will be at is October 8th . I will confirm it and everybody is invited! By the way, work on the house remodel is progressing, Baths finished today except for putting up new trim tommorow morning and they they will be starting on the liveing room & dineing room!
Western Political Director..
welcome! Jump right in.
Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.