It’s always educational to take a trip almost anywhere in America. Wherever you happen to travel, people are far more cheerful and helpful and warmer than their economic circumstances might suggest. My granddaughter moved with her parents to Asheville, North Carolina last November and this was our first opportunity to visit them there. Delta Airlines operates a red-eye flight into Atlanta from Denver that only costs $100 and every seat was occupied — stuffed with bargain hunters. Stumbling off the plane at 5:30 a.m. we picked up our rental car and headed for the Tiger Run Vineyard.
Martha Ezzard’s book, “Second Bud,” recounting her travails in launching a winery recently received the Georgia Book of the Year award and we wanted to check in on an old friend. The former Colorado state senator and press spokesperson for Dick Lamm appeared happy as a clam on a rainy Georgia morning. Her vines were groaning beneath the weight of maturing grapes. Tiger Run’s white wine blend won a Gold Award in Los Angeles last year, which must have startled California’s Bottle Shock snobs.
Colorado micro-brewers have been expanding into the Asheville area. New Belgium of Fort Collins is constructing a large site that will include a brewery restaurant serving outdoor tables located along the banks of the French Broad River, joining seven existing brewers in Buncombe County. Oskar Blues has already located its Eastern outpost in Brevard, North Carolina, located in wonderfully named Transylvania County. This is mountainous country where ridgelines obscure the dimensions of a metropolitan region approaching half a million residents. Asheville has developed a Boulder-like reputation where an island of liberals coexists in an ocean of rural Republicans. It may not be long before they consider secession and petition for affiliation with Colorado.
North Carolina is not a local control state. Although about the same size as Colorado in terms of population, they have triple the number of state employees. State workers maintain all roads. The legislature establishes pay and policies for all public schools and can interfere with local decisions. Shortly after the Tea Party election sweep in 2010, the legislature confiscated both the Charlotte (another Democratic bastion) and Asheville airports, moving them into appointed regional authorities. Lawsuits are proceeding through the courts. Gerrymandering produced several Republican legislators representing slices of Asheville. One by the name of Tim Moffitt has introduced legislation that would transfer Asheville’s water system into a multi-county sewer district. Even in a state where more effort goes into running water off the ground than in capturing it, liquor remains for drinking and water for fighting. The 2008 Republican congressional candidate has threatened to switch parties if this condemnation proceeds.
Brian Turner, the scion of an Asheville manufacturing family, whose father has chaired the Country Club Board and whose mother has chaired the Mission Hospital Board, has emerged as the Democratic alternative. During a lunch conversation between the candidates, Moffitt asked Turner to withdraw because a campaign would interfere with his goal of being elected Speaker of the North Carolina House next year. Turner also reported that Moffitt told him there were “forces” he could not control that would “destroy me and my family.” Rather than denying such threats, Moffitt says he was merely trying to warn Turner about the “toxic political environment” in Buncombe County. It turns out that even Republicans may like cheap, clean water as a poll earlier this week found Turner leading the race by 11 points.
The current House Speaker, Republican Thom Tillis, who is running against incumbent Kay Hagan for a U.S. Senate seat this year finds himself trailing a vulnerable incumbent. The legislature has run six weeks past its scheduled adjournment because of his inability to engineer an agreement on the state budget with his Republican Senate colleagues. His voter approval has slipped about a point a week during the Tex., stalemate. The primary tripwire has been teacher salaries, which rank 47th in the nation. Houston, Tex., has been successfully dispatching raiding parties into Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Durham, N.C., to D.C.
A different type of politics in Martha Ezzard’s adopted state aim to poach outstanding public school teachers with considerable success. Art Pope, the billionaire architect of North Carolina’s Tea Party insurgency and also state budget director to Governor Pat McCrory, has his work cut out for him in the face of “Moral Monday” demonstrations at the Capitol and growing public outrage at shrinking state services. And we think we have problems in Colorado? On to the nation’s capitol.
A quick visit to Washington, D.C., is more than enough to leave you ready to sing hosannas that you reside in Colorado. The White House appears intent on provoking Republicans into attempting an impeachment, and many Republicans appear ready to oblige the President. An attempt to impeach the second Democratic President in a row on trivial charges can only throw the Republican Party’s allegiance to the democratic process into question. Are elections only to be honored when their candidates win? There’s a message that will surely hobble their presidential candidate in 2016.
Yet Democrats are moping around like their parents ordered them to take Hillary to the prom. Sure she’s smart and likeable enough, so they’ve rented their tuxedos and purchased their corsages and are bracing themselves for a long, boring night of wonk talk. But that Warren girl sure looks like a lot more fun. She’s smoking hot and running around town in her Prius, with a case of beer on ice in the trunk, and talking about egging the Federal Reserve before driving out to skinny dip at the reservoir. Alas, wisdom is likely to prevail. Enforcers are patrolling the halls. Elopers will be severely punished!
Miller Hudson calls Colorado home. He can be reached at email@example.com.