Hipps braces for hard campaign

By Vicki Hyatt | May 09, 2014
Photo by: Vicki Hyatt Lawrence McCleskey declares Jane Hipps, who was vying for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 50, the winner Tuesday evening after she took a steady lead and maintained 70 percent of the vote throughout the evening.

MAGGIE VALLEY — As election results trickled in Tuesday night, a small crowd gathered at the Rendezvous Restaurant, sipped on sweet tea and celebrated what N.C. Senate District 50 candidate Jane Hipps called the first leg of a journey.

Before 10 p.m., Lawrence McCleskey, a retired bishop with the United Methodist Church, got the crowd’s attention to call the race for Hipps, who had taken an early lead for the Democratic nomination and was maintaining a lead with over 70 percent of the vote against Sylva businessman Ron Robinson.

Hipps told a jubilant crowd that Tuesday marked just one of three hurdles on the road to representing Western North Carolina in the state senate.

The next challenge will be overcoming the negative ads that are surely to mark the campaign, just as the ones that ran against the latest Democratic incumbent John Snow. In that race, Sen. Jim Davis, a Franklin orthodontist, spent nearly $1 million on his campaign, much of which was out-of-district funding spent on attack ads.

“We are facing an avalanche of negative ads that we’ve got to overcome,” Hipps told the crowd. “People have asked me how I’m going to handle that, and I talk about the Bible story of David and Goliath.”

She referenced the 2011 New Yorker article “State for Sale” that chronicled the political influence and funds from Art Pope’s empire built on retail stores that include Maxway and Roses.

“We have to stand strong and say we are not for sale,” Hipps said, noting she might not be able to match the expected GOP funding influx dollar for dollar, but will need money to “buy a slingshot and a rock.”

Hipps referenced issues such as the devastation the Republican-led General Assembly has brought to education, the decision to deny medical care to half a million people by refusing to expand Medicaid and treating educators with far less respect than they deserve.

“My vision for this state is that 2013-14 will just be a blip on a screen,” she said. “I see our Grand Old State as a place of economic prosperity where education has been restored and where people have access to quality healthcare.”


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