-NC Insider has a report on the Moffitt/Turner conversation. You have to be a subscriber to read.
-Local radio talk show host Pete Kaliner had Turner on his WWNC AM 570 show on Wednesday, March 12, for an interview. Under the headline “Opponent Accuses Rep. Moffitt of Offering Bribe,” Kaliner has Turner go through the meeting in detail. Turner explains that Moffitt said he planned to run for speaker of the N.C. House and that he didn’t need any distractions at home, then asked Turner to withdraw from the race.
Turner tells Kaliner that Moffitt then suggested that Turner “do something productive like run UNC TV,” Turner said. Moffitt “then went on to say, ‘I think we could get that moved to Asheville,'” though he added that a decision like that would require a decision by the state Board of Governors, Turner tells Kaliner.
“At that pointIi kind of sat there a little dumbstruck. You go through it, you replay it in your head and you say, did that just happen?” Turner tells Kaliner.
Turner goes on to tell Kaliner that he met with state Board of Elections officials and consulted with his campaign staff and outside counsel before deciding not to file an official complaint. Turner says he doesn’t want the campaign to get bogged down in a back-and-forth over the issue.
Listen to Kaliner’s interview with Turner here. King was scheduled to appear on the Kaliner show Thursday afternoon, March 13.
-In a story posted to the Asheville Citizen-Times on Thursday, March 13, reporter Jon Ostendorff reports that Moffitt and King dispute Turner’s version of events. In response to a question regarding whether Moffitt offered Turner a job in return for Turner stepping down, Ostendorff reports:
Moffitt said the statement was not a bribe.
“I’m effective and I get things done, but I am not that good,” he said. “I could probably make him queen of Spain before I could make him president of UNC-TV.”
Click over to the Asheville Citizen-Times to read the full story. The newspaper has a pay wall up, fyi.
ORIGINAL POST on March 10: Republican N.C. Rep. Tim Moffitt asked his Democratic challenger Brian Turner to withdraw from the race last month, an unusual request from one candidate to another.
Turner confirmed the meeting, and the fact that Moffitt asked him to step aside, though Turner declined to talk about other specifics of the conversation. Moffitt and a third person present at the meeting, Republican Buncombe County Commissioner David King, have not returned messages seeking comment.
But Turner has talked about the sit-down in Democratic precinct meetings, and people familiar with the Turner-Moffitt meet-up have offered other details. Moffitt went so far as to warn Turner that third-party groups outside the Republican’s control would “nuke” Turner, those sources said.
Moffitt and Turner met at Travinia restaurant in Biltmore Park about 3 p.m. on Feb. 24. King, who has touted the fact that he has friends on both sides of the political aisle, acted as a go-between and was also at the table. The meeting was ostensibly a pre-campaign get-together for the two candidates to say hello.
But over an appetizer and iced tea – sweet for Turner, unsweetened for Moffitt – Moffitt asked Turner to withdraw from the race. Turner declined. The conversation continued, with Moffitt suggesting that Turner might fulfill a desire to serve the state through some other state job, according to sources familiar with the meeting. (Turner resigned his job as a vice chancellor at UNC Asheville to challenge against Moffitt, his first run for political office.)
Moffitt went on to say that third-party groups he couldn’t control would “nuke” Turner and his family, according to the sources. Turner is married and has a daughter.
The Moffitt-Turner race is shaping up as a high-profile contest in Western North Carolina. Moffitt has been a lightning rod for controversy in recent years for his support of a variety of legislation, including moves to remove control of Asheville’s water system assets from Asheville City Council and his support of a bill to outlaw female toplessness.
Turner’s challenge of Moffitt could also distract the two-term state House member from bigger political aspirations. Moffitt is widely seen as interested in running for speaker of the N.C. House in coming years. Turner and Moffitt are vying for Buncombe County’s House District 116 seat.