The United States Constitution mandates for citizens to be at least 25 years old before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. A citizen must be at least 30 to serve in the United States Senate and 35 to be the nation’s Commander in Chief. On Jan. 30, Ethan Wingfield, a 26 yearold native of Buncombe County, announced his candidacy to be the next Congressional Representative of the 11th district of North Carolina. He formally filed to run on Dec. 22, 2011. Clearly, the new candidate believes his youth will be an asset rather than a liability.
The house seat is occupied by Democratic incumbent Heath Shuler, who has served WNC in Congress since defeating Republican Charles Taylor in the 2006 midterm elections. Shuler, who considered a run for the governorship before backing out on Jan. 31, is politically vulnerable this year thanks to the new redistricting maps that eliminate the city of Asheville and adds three Republican leaning counties to the district. It is obvious that Republicans want the Blue-Dog Democrat out of Congress, which is why they gerrymandered his district so heavily.
Wingfield, a graduate of Brown University, hopes to hit the ground running and separate himself from the rest of the GOP primary field, which includes Jackson County real estate investor Mark Meadows, District Attorney Jeff Hunt, and tea party candidate Dan Eichenbaum. Meadows recently received an endorsement from 2010 Republican challenger Jeff Miller, who lost to Shuler by eight percentage points two years ago. Wingfield raised $204,019 in just ten days in late December, which is why his GOP competitors may have to take him seriously. His campaign press release said that the money was raised with the help of over 100 individual contributors.
“North Carolinians want solutions that will fundamentally change how business is done in Washington,” said Wingfield in a press release. “They are tired of simplistic sound bites, scapegoats, and stonewalling. Western North Carolina deserves a conservative, pro-life leader with real solutions to double-digit unemployment and out-of-control government spending. My career has been devoted to solving problems and building anew. My campaign will offer concrete and substantive solutions to Washington’s problems,” he said.
After Wingfield graduated from Brown, he started his own technology company that he later sold. He then went to work for Capital One, and eventually worked his way up to be an advisor to the CEO. Since excelling at Capital One, a company that did not take any federal bailouts and continued to add jobs during the Great Recession, Wingfield moved back home to Western North Carolina with his wife, Jacqueline.
Wingfield, one of six children, was home schooled growing up. He attended Asheville- Buncombe Technical Community College for two years before his acceptance to Brown. During his tenure at Brown, Wingfield was elected as the state chairman of the Rhode Island College Republicans and expanded the organization significantly, according to his campaign press release. He also fought to reelect a pro-life conservative governor in the traditional blue state of Rhode Island, and was president of the university’s largest Christian organization, which had nearly 200 members. Wingfield graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
Wingfield realizes he has an uphill battle and he is not taking campaigning lightly. “We have so many tough challenges ahead of us, and I don’t think we have much time to get our fiscal situation in order before it’s too late,” he said. Wingfield went on to say that reforming entitlement programs is a necessity if the federal debt is going to be handled responsibly. “If someone tells you that Medicare is not in trouble then they are lying,” he said. “We have to take action soon to ensure that we keep our promises to seniors, but also don’t pass on debt to the next generation,” he said echoing Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s analyses on how quickly empires can collapse when bond holders get uneasy about a nation’s debt woes.
If elected, Wingfield vows to present and vote for policies to reign in the national debt and spur economic development. “I think the unemployment rates in WNC are unacceptable,” he said. The young challenger said that he has a tremendous amount of respect for Congressional members like Republican budget guru Paul Ryan, a U.S. House budget leader from Wisconsin. “I think he has some serious ideas and he’s not afraid to tell the truth and present policies that deal with our problems,” said Wingfield. The candidate concluded that his campaign will offer comprehensive, substantive solutions to the myriad problems America is facing, something he hopes WNC voters find refreshing.