(Photo: Courtesy U.S. House)
ASHEVILLE – Eleventh District U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows has formally announced his bid for a fourth term in the House and has changed his residence for voting purposes.
Meadows, a Republican first elected in 2012, has become an important player in Washington as chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and an ally of President Donald Trump.
“For the past 5 years, I’ve had the best job in the world representing the people of Western North Carolina in Congress,” Meadows said in a statement. “I’m more determined than ever to once again earn the confidence of Western North Carolinians and continue the fight to make Congress listen to the forgotten men and women.”
Meadows has pushed for tax cuts, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, fewer government regulations and cuts in federal spending. He was a leader in a move that led to a government shutdown in 2013 in an unsuccessful effort to defund the ACA and helped push House Speaker John Boehner out of that job in 2015.
He has hailed tax cut legislation passed in December and says the Trump administration has taken significant steps to reduce federal rules. But Meadows voted against a recent deal that Trump signed into law to increase federal spending on domestic and defense programs and raise the debt ceiling, saying, “The swamp won.”
On Western North Carolina issues, Meadows opposed a Tennessee Valley Authority proposal to remove houseboats from its lakes and has pushed for money to fulfill a $54 million settlement with Swain County in lieu of building a road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Freedom Caucus is a group of about 40 members on the ideological right wing among Republican House members. The current party breakdown in the House means that if Freedom Caucus members unanimously oppose legislation, the rest of Republicans in the House cannot pass it unless some Democrats go along.
The chairmanship of the group has rotated during the group’s first years of existence, meaning someone besides Meadows would head it in 2019 if that tradition continues.
Meadows is originally from the Tampa, Florida, area and moved to Highlands in 1986 to open a sandwich shop with his wife. He then got into real estate sales and development.
He lived in southern Jackson County after that, but the couple sold their home in Glenville in 2016 and moved to an apartment in Biltmore Park, the mixed-use development in Asheville’s southern reaches. Meadows said at that time that the move was temporary and the couple would look for a permanent home in the district.
Voting records say Meadows transferred his registration to an address in Sapphire in Transylvania County’s southwestern corner on Jan. 16. The county values the home in a golf course community at $482,740. It is listed as owned by a Meadows-owned company.
Meadows’ congressional office spokesman did not respond to requests for information about the timing of or reason for the move.
Meadows is the only Republican candidate who has filed to run so far in the 11th District, although Lenoir resident Christopher Money filed preliminary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in October. The filing period ends Wednesday.
Democrats in the race are Scott Donaldson, a urologist from Hendersonville; Phillip Price, a McDowell County resident who owns a company that recycles wood; and Steve Woodsmall, a professor at Brevard College. Libertarian Clinfton Ingram Jr. of Sylva has also filed to run.
The 11th is strongly Republican and Meadows won it by wide margins in 2014 and 2016. It runs from North Carolina’s western tip east to Lenoir and includes western and northern Buncombe County.