Rebecca WalterHendersonville Times-News
FLAT ROCK - Local elected officials and longtime friends were among the dozens of supporters gathered at Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards’ election results watch party Tuesday night at The Lodge at Flat Rock. Many supported GOP incumbent Madison Cawthorn in 2020 but shifted their support after Edwards set his sights on Congress.
Rebecca McCall, vice chair of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, said she supports Edwards for his work ethic and accomplishments serving District 48 in the state senate.
“...He has a strong track record that I feel will be beneficial for us in Washington,” McCall said, adding she feels Edwards’ life experience makes him the most qualified candidate.
She voted for Madison Cawthorn in the 2020 general election.
“I supported Madison last time, and if Madison were to win, I would support him moving forward, but I just think that Chuck is the stronger candidate,” McCall said before the final election results came through.
Bill Frizzell, a friend of Edwards since 1985, showed his loyalty for his longtime pal on Tuesday night. Frizzell’s first managerial job was at the Brevard McDonald’s where Edwards was the store manager at the time. Frizzell, who is currently the chief operating officer at Big South Restaurant Groups, described Edwards as a mentor.
Edwards’ “honesty, integrity and care for Western North Carolina” are the main reasons Frizzell said he voted for his friend in the primary.
“(Edwards) wants to make a difference with every fabric of his being,” Frizzell said.
Frizzell also voted for Cawthorn in the 2020 general election. He has specific reasons why he no longer supports the incumbent.
“Being in the restaurant group, I witnessed how (Cawthorn) treated people that were there, people who worked for me.” Frizzell said he witnessed Cawthorn speak down to employees at local restaurants. He declined to provide the specific name of the eateries.
Cawthorn’s response to the devastating impacts of Tropical Storm Fred in August 2021 also pushed Frizzell away from supporting the young congressman.
“I live in Haywood County, and I love Haywood County with every part of my body, and unfortunately we had the floods last year, and Cawthorn never showed up,” Frizzell said. “We had friends and family that needed help and reached out to him and his office, and they were greeted with nothing but silence. He was absent when we needed him, and I didn’t appreciate that.”
Wife and husband Lisa and Greg Beam also showed their support for Edwards in person Tuesday night. The couple says they are heavily involved in the local Republican party and have gotten to know Edwards well. They’ve also formed strong opinions about Cawthorn.
Greg Beam described Edwards as down-to-earth and approachable. He detailed Cawthorn as loud, not very bright, and out of control. He said Cawthorn’s recklessness has been apparent even before his many controversies.
“He’s not served his constituents,” Greg Beam said. He expressed concern about Western North Carolina’s representation in Congress if Cawthorn got re-elected. Beam said he feared Cawthron would be ostracized by others in the party.
“If Chuck gets in there, they will love him,” Greg Beam said. “Western North Carolina will have a voice.”
Lisa Beam said Edwards is hardworking and an example of the “American dream.”
“He gets things done,” she said, mentioning the numerous committees Edwards serves on in the general assembly.
State Rep. Jake Johnson, Henderson County Commissioner Mike Edney, former state representative Chuck McGrady and former Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald were among the supporters at Edwards' watch party.
Edwards did not make an appearance at The Lodge at Flat Rock until after Cawthorn conceded He led from the start of vote tallies in, though his margin shrank as the night progressed. By almost 11 p.m. with 98% of precincts reporting, Edwards had 33.5% of the vote to Cawthorn's 31.7%.
Edwards received a call from his opponent around 10 p.m. Edwards spoke highly of Cawthorn during his victory remarks.
“Just as I expected he presented himself in a very classy and humble way and offered to support our campaign in absolutely any way that we could use it, and I am extremely, extremely pleased that we were able to end this contest on that note.”
Including his state senate races, Edwards said this is his fourth election and fourth win.
“...we are changing our focus. Tomorrow when we wake up, we are going to be 100% focused on Jasmine Beach-Ferrara. We are going to be focused on taking the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi. We are going to be focused on removing the teleprompter from Joe Biden. We are going to go back to work re-implementing the policies that made this country great under President Trump.”
He now has his sights on November’s general election.
Edwards currently represents District 48 (Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties) in the North Carolina General Assembly.
In September 2016, Edwards was appointed by former Gov. Pat McCrory to fill the vacant state senate seat, left open by former Sen. Tom Apodaca, who retired earlier that year. He went onto formally win the seat in the general election in November. He won his second full-term in November 2018. In 2020, he scored another term after defeating Democrat Brian Caskey.