Charles “Charlie” D. Owen III today announced his candidacy as a Democrat running for the District 49 N.C. Senate seat held until recently by the late Senator Martin Nesbitt. “I’m an unconventional candidate, but I bring new thinking and fresh perspectives to problems. That’s what Martin valued, and I hope it’s what the voters of Buncombe County value.”
Owen, whose father founded Owen Manufacturing Company, in 1973, is a newcomer to politics, but no stranger to the most important issues facing Western North Carolina – education, access to healthcare, economic development and the environment.
“I am a businessman and community volunteer who has always been able to work successfully with people of all political persuasions at the state and local level on critical issues,” he said. “Until recently I was registered as unaffiliated, but I am concerned that the Republican Party has taken our state in the wrong direction,” Owen said, “I will do my best to combine my business background and a lifetime of service to help all citizens of Buncombe County, and the best way I can do that is as a Democrat.”
For more than 30 years, Owen worked in various capacities at Owen Manufacturing, the world’s largest blanket manufacturer. He currently owns and operates Fletcher Warehousing and Transportation Companies. He served on the board
of Mission Health for 20 years and the UNC Hospital System’s board for eight years. He also served on the state’s Smart Start Board, the board of N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry and the North Carolina Nature Conservancy. In Buncombe County, he served on the YWCA’s capital campaign board with County Commissioner Holly Jones, as well as United Way Campaign and Board Chair and the board of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“After much thought and discussion with my family, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to serve my community in a different way. Martin gave Buncombe County a strong voice in Raleigh. I would like to be that voice,” Owen said. “Just like Martin, I want Buncombe County to be a place that lives up to our State toast – as a place where ‘the weak grow strong and the strong grow great.’ Under the current Republican leadership that’s simply not going to happen.”
Why has this race attracted so many obviously strong Democratic candidates, when the race against Tim Moffitt only brought out novice Brian Turner?
Because this is an appointment rather than an election, giving you a headstart before you have to go up against another party’s candidate? Because a Senate seat is more tempting and potentially influential than a House seat? Because it’s a much larger and more diverse district? Because Moffitt is actually a pretty formidable opponent, and people are averse to an ugly fight?
Need more reasons than that?
Sounds like you nailed it. But what does this say about the Democrats, that they don’t want to seriously tackle probably the most destructive local Republican in Buncombe/Asheville history?
Just maybe local Dems saw Turner as a very good candidate, and why not unite behind him rather than engage in a bruising primary?
Rep. Moffitt is obviously very concerned he might lose to him. I think he was a good choice.
Also, this NC Senate district favors Democrats. Moffit’s district favors Republicans. It should be noted that both Terry Van Duyn and Michelle Pace Wood ran for County Commission from a district that has the same identical lines to the Moffit district. Both lost and neither was willing to make another attempt (as was any other Democrat) but both are interested in the more Democratic friendly Senate district.
That is a very helpful analysis. It sounds like the Dems need a Heath Schuler-type candidate to run against Moffitt, someone with conservative appeal to Republicans and Independents. It took some time to figure out that was how to beat Charles Taylor.
Brian Turner is indeed a very fine individual, and it speaks well of him that he’s willing to tackle such a tough assignment.
We now have four official candidates seeking the seat: Owen; Terry Van Duyn; Michelle Pace Wood; and Veronika Gunter
The official Buncombe Dem page on the Special Election lists five candidates: those four, plus Keith Young.