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Flipping District 11 from red to blue -- is it a long shot?

Flipping District 11 from red to blue -- is it a long shot?
Since announcing her bid for Congress, Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara has raised more than $100,000 for her effort to unseat 11th District Congressman Madison Cawthorn next year. (Photo credit: Jasmine Beach-Ferrara campaign)

In the just more than 24 hours since Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara announced her bid for Congress. Since then, she has raised more than $100,000 for her effort to unseat 11th District Congressman Madison Cawthorn next year.

But two local political experts said flipping the district to blue is a longshot because in 11th Congressional District is a Republican stronghold.

"Like a lot of folks in WNC, I know what it's like to be underestimated and then to beat the odds," Beach-Ferrara said in a Facebook post.

And beat the odds is just what political scientists Chris Cooper and Michael Bitzer said the Democrat will have to do to unseat Cawthorn.

"It's an uphill climb. One could even describe it as a mountainous climb," said Bitzer, Catawba College's political science chairman said.

COMMISSIONER JASMINE BEACH-FERRARA ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN AGAINST REP. MADISON CAWTHORN

Bitzer said the rural-heavy district has long had a dominant Republican base and 2022s a midterm also favors Republicans.

Still, Cawthorn has been embroiled in several controversies, including allegations of sexual harassment, which he denies.

"He is very much fitting into where the Republican Party is, and it is a party dominated by Donald Trump," Bitzer said.

MORE THAN $100,000 IN DONATIONS POURS IN FOR BEACH-FERRARA IN FIRST 24 HOURS OF CAMPAIGN

State numbers show the district has nearly 163,000 Democrats, some 190,000 Republicans and 213,000 unaffiliated voters.

"It is unlikely a Democrat will be successful in this district," said Cooper, a Western Carolina University political science professor.

Cooper said it comes down to numbers to win. He said Beach-Ferrara would have to dominate Buncombe County, northern Henderson and southern Madison and flip Jackson and Swain counties to win.

"It's sort of the inside straight of electoral politics if you want to make this work as a Democrat in the 11th," Cooper said.

SEVERAL POTENTIAL CANDIDATES INTERESTED IN RUNNING AGAINST CAWTHORN FOR NC'S 11TH DISTRICT

Beach-Ferrara spokesman Eric Hyers pushed back on political expert’s opinions.

"Jasmine has been upending expectations her entire life. If she had listened to the pundits and experts, she never would have brought the fight for marriage equality to communities all over the Deep South. And she never would have ran and won two competitive races for county commission. This campaign is about building an organization that brings people together on the issues that matter to people's daily lives. Jasmine already raised more than $100,000 in the first 24 hours since announcing her candidacy. Her campaign will be well-funded, disciplined and designed to prove the skeptics wrong," Hyers said.

Boundaries for the 11th District are slated to be redrawn after the census is completed. But Cooper said, with Republicans in the majority in the North Carolina General Assembly, it’s unlikely the lines would be drawn to favor a Republican losing the district.

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