The mayor and Patsy Keever battle for a chance to beat Patrick McHenry.
by Jess McCuan . photo by Matt Rose
On a gray day in late January, Patsy Keever and a crew of supporters (including one enthusiastic “canine for Keever”) gathered outside the Buncombe County Courthouse to help Keever launch her campaign for Congress. As the filing deadline drew near in late February, it looked like two prominent Asheville Democrats—Keever and Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy—were set to square off against each other in a May primary for a chance to run against entrenched Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry in North Carolina’s 10th District.
Keever, a longtime Buncombe County Commissioner and former state representative who was drawn out of her district last year, explained why her experience in Buncombe County public schools has prepared her well for politics. “After teaching eighth graders for 20 years, I can handle the adolescents in Congress,” she told an Asheville crowd.
Since that kickoff, Keever and campaign manager Jonathon Bray have made rounds to every 10th District county except Lincoln. “The common thread is jobs,” Keever says of residents in towns like Hickory and Gastonia. She says Democrats in rural areas are enthused—not resentful—about left-leaning Asheville joining their district. Still, with significantly less cash than McHenry and in such firm Republican territory, both Keever and Bellamy face uphill battles. At the end of last year, according to opensecrets.org, McHenry’s campaign had raised $256,817, and Bellamy raised $55,597. Keever, who has only been fundraising for a few short weeks, will report figures at the end of this month.