(It's the way they play.) The code states that "No sign shall obscure or replace another sign."
Rod Honeycutt's campaign team is claiming foul on Madison Cawthorn's campaign, saying it isn't playing by the rules, when it comes to the placement of campaign signs.
Earlier this week, Honeycutt's team reported that Rep. Cawthorn's campaign signs around town were in violation of the State Board of Election's code about sign placement.
Several of Cawthorn's signs were doing just that along Four Seasons Boulevard, South Main Street and U.S. Highway 64 in Hendersonville, as they are obscuring the view of Honeycutt's signs, according to Greg Wiggins, a spokesperson for the Honeycutt campaign. Honeycutt is also running in the N.C. 11 race.
"We've put several signs out for Honeycutt, but nothing compared to what Cawthorn has. The few we have put out for our candidate, you can't even see," said Wiggins. "That's just not the way to play. We don't need that in NC 11. We don't have deep pockets. We can't constantly buy signs or create new signs every time they cover up ours."
The code states that "No sign shall obscure or replace another sign."
According to Honeycutt, the campaign team has received several calls about the signs and photos of signs being obscured have also been sent in. One of the photos at the entrance of Chick-Fil-A on U.S. 64 showed Honeycutt's sign was almost entirely hidden by three Cawthorn signs that were boxing it in.
“it’s unfortunate, but true... Honeycutt signs across our district have been masked by Cawthorn's signs. I would have thought Cawthorn's negative signage experience in his first campaign would have taught him to not attack others in their first campaign. This hurts like it did him then," Honeycutt said. "It’s disappointing to have your First Amendment rights violated and election laws violated. My team is correcting the signs we know about and trust Cawthorn's team will do the right thing and fix the situation”
Luke Ball, spokesperson for Cawthorn', said their volunteers have clear instructions not to impede other candidates' signs.
"If others' signs are obstructed, or if individuals not affiliated with our campaign misplace our signs on purpose, we encourage voters to notify our campaign office (828-435-7310) so we can fix the signage," Ball said.
While it may seem to be a violation, enforcing it is quite another story, according to Henderson County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Johnny Duncan.
"There is a North Carolina General Statute that prohibits obscuring a campaign sign — it’s a Class 1 misdemeanor," Duncan said. "With it being a misdemeanor, the only way a law enforcement officer could take action (arrest/cite) someone for this violation is if it occurred in their presence. The owner of the sign being obscured could obtain a warrant for the person placing the obscuring signs out if he/she observed the person doing it or had video evidence of it. There is no way for law enforcement to cite/fine the actual campaign of the offender."
There is also a law which prohibits anyone removing campaign signs and is a Class 3 misdemeanor, according to the State Board of Elections, but it also requires visual proof to be enforced. The City of Hendersonville's only mandate concerning political signs is mentioned in Article 13 of the city's zoning ordinance and states that political signs not exceeding three square feet are permitted from 60 days prior to three days following the day of the election.
Cawthorn is hoping to keep his congressional seat in District 11 and is running against Honeycutt, Chuck Edwards, Bruce O'Connell, Wendy Marie-Limbaugh Nevarez, Kristie Sluder, Michele V. Woodhouse and Matthew Burril in the Republic primary. For the Democratic primary, the candidates are Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Jay Carey, Katie Dean, Marco Gutierrez, Bo Hess and Bynum Lunsford.
The statewide primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 17. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 8. One-stop early voting will be held at the following locations from Thursday, April 28 to Saturday, May 14:
Henderson County Board of Elections, 75 E. Central St., Hendersonville
► Etowah Library, 101 Brickyard Rd., Etowah
► Flat Rock Village Hall, 110 Village Center Dr., Flat Rock
► Fletcher Town Hall, 300 Old Cane Creek Rd., Fletcher