Republican candidates pitch their ideals at Watauga County GOP event

Moss Brennan, Political Editor

Nearly 100 people gathered Sunday to hear Republican candidates speak and ask for support at a Watauga County GOP event.

The main issue for many of the candidates was simple: get out and vote

“We have got to get out and vote. We lost this seat in 2018,” said Republican candidate Ray Pickett. “Jonathan Jordan lost because we just did not get out there and vote. We have got to outvote them.”

Pickett is running against Ray Russell for the North Carolina House of Representatives District 93 seat. Russell defeated Jordan in 2018. 

Jordan had served four consecutive terms in that position. 

Other candidates echoed Pickett. 

“We have to be very vigilant, we have to turn out our voters,” said Congresswoman Virginia Foxx. 

Todd Castle, Republican candidate for Watauga County commissioner District 1, said the 2018 Republican candidates should have won in a landslide. 

“We lost some wonderful candidates,” Castle said. “We didn’t support them and we didn’t go vote. People get complacent.” 

In 2018, every Democrat running for office in Watauga County received the majority of votes in their race. 

Bart Keller, Republican candidate for Watauga County commissioner District 5, mentioned overcoming the “ASU vote.”

“Those students on campus that are pushed from those liberal pressures. Those are the ones that make us go democratic in this county with every election,” Keller told the crowd. 

He also encouraged people to register to vote if they have not. 

State Senator Deanna Ballard told the crowd the election was about two things: chaos versus community and choice versus no choice. 

“I would want to say at the state level as a whole one thing that this election is about is about one man versus we the people and that’s our governor,” Ballard said. “Our governor has had extreme absolute authority and power to make the decisions that he’s been doing.” 

Ballard brought up how the legislature, which is a Republican majority, has tried to pass bills to reopen the state.

While the invitation stated masks were mandatory — a requirement under Gov. Roy Cooper’s guidelines — many chose not to wear them.  

Foxx, the representative for North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, also addressed absentee ballots — a hot topic among Republicans and Democrats in Congress. 

“You know, the Democrats cannot win at the ballot box. They just can’t,” Foxx told the crowd. “But, they can win in the courts and they can win with absentee ballots.” 

As of Aug. 31, over 530,000 North Carolina voters have requested absentee ballots, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. 

App State freshman football player Anderson Castle was there with his family and a few teammates in support of his dad, Todd Castle. 

More students like president of the App State College Republicans, River Collins, also showed support at the event. 

Collins said seeing peers his age made him feel better about his club’s presence on campus. 

Senior Isaiah Gordon attended the event and helped organize parking. He was also glad to see college-aged people at the event expressing their political beliefs. 

“People should be able to express their political beliefs without being in fear of backlash from anybody,” Gordon said. “That’s a very important thing. That’s what makes America what it is.”

John Moncrieff, president of App State’s Turning Point USA — a conservative non-profit — said he’s ready to get to work for the candidates.

“I’m excited to see what we can do for them and hopefully we can flip a few seats and go from there,” Moncrieff said.