Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.Political observers say that Veronika Gunter and Terry Van Duyn are the two candidates to beat in the campaign to fill the unexpired term of N.C. Sen. Martin Nesbitt, who died recently. Nesbitt served in Buncombe County’s N.C. Senate District 49, which covers most of the county.

The other declared candidates: Charlie Owen and Michelle Pace Wood, as has Keith Young and Aixa Wilson. Buncombe County Democratic Party officials plan to meet on Thursday to pick a successor.

Members of the Buncombe County Democratic Party’s executive committee will make the decision tonight. There are 156 members of that committee, which includes precinct chairs and local elected officials. The winning candidate must get 50 percent of the vote, plus one, to win.

Candidates will be nominated from the floor. Gunter will likely be nominated by her supporter, Drew Reisinger, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds, or one of two Buncombe County commissioners who support her – Holly Jones or Brownie Newman. Political observers say Van Duyn will be nominated by Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan. Who nominates a candidate is a clue as to their intra-party support.

The committee will gather in the Buncombe County Courthouse to vote. I don’t have details yet of the actual voting process – by secret ballot? – or how the votes will be tallied.

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