Two years ago Nancy Fish was elected Haywood County Democratic Party chair at a county convention that was split almost evenly.
In the 2004 election Democrats lost the congressional race 55% to 45%. Hometown state Senator Joe Sam Queen lost his election (NC Senate district 47, which includes several other counties). He won in Haywood by 18 points, not enough to overcome the rest of the counties in his district.
Election day, 2006, in Haywood County the Democratic Party had swept the ticket.
Congressman Heath Shuler defeated Charles Taylor in Haywood by by 56 to 44. And NC Senator Joe Sam beat incumbent Republican Keith Presnell by a whopping 30 points to go on and take back the senate seat he'd lost two years before.
What happened? When asked that question Nancy Fish replies, "Inclusion. Inclusion. Inclusion." She said it simply and repeatedly, "We found something for everyone to do." Click below to listen.
Paul Donahue, former Henderson County Chair (and retired Congressional chief of staff) presided over the county convention two years ago. He said, "Nancy's strength is her tenacity. She'll move slowly and she'll move cautiously. But she won't back off. She knows exactly where she wants to go. She's just smart enough to make sure the majority is with her before she moves forward."
Apparently, the majority was with her November 7th. Click to listen to Nancy talk about election day:
"We made a difference for Heath but Joe Sam was the one we put on top. And [NC Senator] John Snow didn't win in our precincts but we closed the gap" compared to the '04 election. In fact, according to the current North Carolina Board of Election website, Snow did win in Haywood County on his way to reelection in the 50th NC Senate district.
Nancy is native to Haywood, but after attending Appalachian and Vanderbilt's Peabody College of Education, she settled to teach in Madison and Buncombe counties. She wasn't active in politics until free from family obligations in 1995 when she found a place for herself in the Madison County Democratic Women. She eventually moved to Buncombe County and was elected to the state Democratic Women's executive board, chairing the state convention in Asheville.
"If not for Democratic women, she said, she probably "would never have gotten as involved. It was a stepping stone. It gave me confidence." Watching Nancy Fish now, it's hard to believe she ever needed any confidence boost.
Haywood County election results
2006 Charles H. Taylor 8,745 Votes
Heath Shuler 11,208 Votes
2004 Charles H. Taylor 14,514 Votes
Patsy Keever 11,822 Votes
NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 47 2006
Joe Sam Queen 11,434 Votes
Keith Presnell 6,446 Votes
NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 47 2004
Joe Sam Queen 13,394 Votes
Keith Presnell 9,253 Votes
NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 50 2006
John Snow 1,497 Votes
Ken McKim 1,111 Votes
Contest: NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 50 2004
John Snow 1,636 Votes
Ben Lamm 47 Votes
Bob Carpenter 1,705 Votes