Democratic Senator seeking reelection, this time as challenger.
Former state Democratic Senator John Snow announced Tuesday that he will be seeking reelection to his former seat in the 50th Senatorial District that covers Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties. Incumbent Senator Jim Davis defeated Snow in 2010 by a slim margin of 161 votes, which could make for an interesting campaign season this summer and fall.
For over 30 years Snow served Western North Carolina (WNC) as an Assistant District Attorney and District Court Judge. Snow also served 6 years as a state Senator before losing to Davis. Snow was elected to the state Senate in 2004 after defeating long-time Republican Senator Bob Carpenter by less than 300 votes. In recent history, the race for the 50th Senate seat has been extremely competitive and WNC can expect another close election in 2012.
Snow had much to say in his re-election announcement, but his remarks tended to focus on investing in public education and creating jobs. “Creating jobs and expanding education opportunities for the students in our schools is one of my top priorities,” said Snow. “To compete for jobs, we need an educated work force, so our support for our public schools, community colleges, and universities is absolutely essential,” continued Snow. “Education is the key to our children’s and to our families’ futures and the key to economic success for our mountain counties and state. This year’s legislative budget cuts to education have been harmful to our economic recovery,” he said. “The cuts from pre-K all the way through higher education have led to larger class sizes, loss of education jobs, and big tuition hikes.” Snow believes that the recent cuts to public education will hinder future economic growth. Furthermore, Snow stated that ranking near the bottom in per pupil spending on public education expenditures, alongside Mississippi and South Carolina, is simply unacceptable.
Snow commented on his record in the state Senate in his announcement, believing his past service in the legislature demonstrates his strong work ethic, his ability to work across party lines, and his strong belief in public education. Snow also stated that he will “work within the means of a balanced budget, keeping taxes and costs to the people as low as possible,” he said.
The challenger stated that if elected, he will ensure that people in WNC will have “affordable and accessible health care for our families, children, and senior citizens. Finally and perhaps most importantly, if elected, I will provide effective leadership that gets results. I will work hard, be actively involved in the legislative process and remain accessible to all the people in our communities. I will be a good listener and provide effective constituent service. I will strive to be a Senator who gets results and a Senator you can be proud of regardless of your party affiliation. I will work across party lines with other legislators from WNC to bring our fair share of state resources to the district,” concluded Snow in his address to the people of WNC.
Macon County Democratic Commissioner and vice chairman of the board, Bobby Kuppers, offered his support for Snow’s candidacy last Tuesday evening. “I think he did a phenomenal job during his time as Senator,” said Kuppers. “He had a tremendous reputation of being a hard worker and someone who could work on both sides of the aisle. I think it will be a good thing for WNC if he is elected back to the Senate,” he said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Snow spoke with The Macon County News about his candidacy in more detail and his hopes for WNC’s future. “I think this election will let the people decide about who is better for WNC,” said Snow. “I think if you look at my service in the legislature and compare my record with his [Sen. Davis], compare my support for public education with his, then you will see a clear difference and the people will have the final say.”
Snow reiterated his discontent about the GOP-led legislature’s cuts to public education, including the “More at Four” program, which targeted at-risk four-year-olds and suffered cuts in last year’s budget. “What their party has done to public education hasn’t improved the economy or helped bring jobs back to the state. They just put more pressure on counties and public school systems to pick up the tab,” Snow stated when asked about what issues separated him from Davis.
The Citizens United Supreme Court decision had a major impact on the 2010 state legislative elections. The decision allows corporations and unions to spend an unlimited amount of money on political campaigns, and tilted the 2010 race in Davis’ favor. Regardless, Snow said that he would not approach their rematch any differently, but emphasized that his core message will focus on education and creating jobs. “I think the people saw what happened last time. But I’m not going to let money change anything. Education is too important. To get our economy going again we have to invest in the future and put money in our community college system to let people who are out of work retrain,” he said.
“People do forget that I am a conservative Democrat. We’re a different type of people in the mountains, so I tried to strike that balance and represent our people the best way I knew how when I was in Raleigh. Our people care about education. That’s where our values are and that’s why I am running again.”