COLUMN: NC Sen. District 47 candidates debate debates through email

SENATE DISTRICT 47, N.C.  — While David Wheeler, Democratic candidate for the N.C. Senate seat for District 47, recently has received national attention through his attempted Word of Faith Fellowship visit, Wheeler challenged incumbent Ralph Hise (R) to a series of debates. Through audience and moderated questions, voters would have a chance to interact with the candidates and learn their stances on critical district issues – jobs, healthcare, corruption, abuse and others.

The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce is no longer supporting candidate debates having turned over that responsibility to Leadership Rutherford. Almost all candidates agree that the best forum for real debate is the one hosted by the NAACP. Other forums have experienced retaliatory denials into the forum, politically prejudiced moderators, lack of attendance, controlled questions to avoid real issues, and biased information.

Wheeler emailed Hise proposing a series of debates in all six counties of the 47th Senatorial District, including Rutherford, Polk and McDowell. Hise  responded he would welcome a debate in a spirited exchange of emails on the district’s issues, personal ethics and whether either is fit to hold the N.C. Senate seat.

The following transcription by the McDowell News  is from the series of emails obtained between David Wheeler and Ralph Hise. They are printed exactly as they were sent without any corrections or deletions.

David Wheeler to Ralph Hise:

Senator Hise – Greetings to you from Spruce Pine. I hope you are enjoying your time in Raleigh.

I would like to propose we have have one debate and one forum in each of the six counties in our district this fall open to the public. In case you’ve forgotten, the 47th District includes Polk, Rutherford, McDowell, Mitchell, Yancey, Madison counties.

I would propose the Democratic and Republican parties in each county work together to host and sort out the details including other co-hosts, format, location, time and moderators. I’ll be happy with whatever they put together and will clear my calendar for any of these jointly organized events. I would also propose we have the press in our district participate as moderators or broadcasting (or tape delay) the debates. I’ve cc’d the press in the district.

Please let me know your thoughts on my proposal above so we can begin planning for these important public events.

Hise’s response:


I am looking forward to opportunity to debate you, especially considering all radical positions and lies I am already hearing from your campaign! Your attempt at humor about forgetting my counties is weak and very misguided. Most likely due to the short time you have been present or involved in this community, it is obvious that you are unaware of this district and the many organizations that put on debates each election cycle. A few examples include the Chamber of Commerce in Rutherford County that put on 6 debates in Rutherford County last cycle. The Chamber in Mitchell County has put on a debate in every election cycle for more than 30 years.

The League of Women Voters also puts on a debate every 2 years in Madison county and the Foothills PAC has also put on debates and meet & greets across Polk county. I am aware of other groups in McDowell and Yancey county that are looking for opportunities this cycle as well. I am not sure why you are copying Rep. Dobson’s opponent in using this tactic to preempt the long standing traditions of these organizations. Most of our local press has always done a good job of covering these events. Many radio stations have either carried them live or the following day, and most papers have followed with front page stories summarizing the events. I would however oppose several specific media outlets putting themselves in another opportunity to make news rather than report on it. I know you are struggling to be recognized in this campaign, but it is a better option to accept these and other events created by our local civic organizations and that represent many of the true concerns of this community rather than replace them with political creations.

Wheeler’s response:

Ralph – Thanks for your quick reply. I’ve never had a response from you before despite dozens to outreach on various issues affecting this district. OH, while I have you, I’m going to Rutherford County soon to meet with the Word of Faith Fellowship. Do you want to join me? There is a crisis going on in Rutherford County and I’m going to help solve it with local residents. It would be great it you could help us.

Back to your nasty email…Mr. Larsen is not only going to beat Rep. Dobson but he’s the Democratic party chair in Mitchell County. That’s why I copied him. I am proposing that we expand the debates for this race and have the R & D parties co-sponsor the debates so they are fair and organized by both of our parties. I’m hoping they’ll also include the civic organizations in our communities.

If you spent a little less time in Raleigh and more time with the people in this district you’d probably realize that people want more communication, not less. The good ol’ boy network and their debates may have worked for you in the past but it doesn’t work for me or other citizens that want to hear from the candidates. I’ve heard that you received the questions to many forums in advance and your Dem opponents didn’t. Is that really fair? That won’t work for me. But I’ll be at every debate and forum even if they are organized by your friends.

Yes, I’m the challenger and working very hard to meet citizens all over this district to hear their concerns. What radical positions have I taken? Getting healthcare for our people? Properly funding education? Or was it that crazy idea that we shouldn’t be cutting SNAP benefits (lunches for kids) for our kids that you proposed? Your bill to allow NC to secede from the USA seemed a bit radical to me. What was the intent of that bill? What you call radical I call helping our people.

And by the way, where have you been all summer? Have you been on one of your 18 day all expenses paid trips to China soaking the NC taxpayers at $104 per day? Did you actually charge NC taxpayers $104 a day to fly in business class to China?

I’ll look forward to seeing you in Western NC soon. If you take Interstate 40 West from Raleigh, you’ll find us all out here looking for action not political bickering.

Hise’s response:

Mr. Wheeler,

Do you always sound this desperate and out of control? I will save my response to most of your propaganda for a later time. Except to inform you that I have never had or supported a bill to allow NC to secede. You will want to learn the difference between the NC house and Senate. HB147 was introduced in the House of Representatives and died in their rules committee without any consideration. No similar bill was introduced or considered by the senate.

I have been elected for 4 terms to represent this district in the North Carolina Senate. I take that responsibility seriously and it requires a lot of time in Raleigh and away from work, my family, and my home. I’m sorry your upset that I invest the time to make sure this district’s needs, values, and positions are heard in the actions of the General Assembly. It’s apparent you have no plans for a similar investment.

Wheeler’s response:

Ralph – You can call me David. And its “you’re upset” not “your upset”.

Yes, I’m upset you were compensated for 36 days in February 2018 for supposedly working at Mayland Community College and the NC Senate while and our district’s schools are hurting, our people’s heathcare costs are spiraling out of control and everyone is suffering under increased local and county taxes. Thanks for all your work on those issues. This is happening on your watch while you’re off in Raleigh, Beijing and Shanghai having a grand ol’ time.

David Wheeler has shown he’s not afraid to rock the boat. This should be an interesting campaign and one in which Hise won’t be able to shout down his opponent. See you at the debates.