Local veterans turn out to run for congress

By Kyle Perrotti kperrotti@themountaineer.com

Three veterans have announced they are running to unseat Madison Cawthorn as the congressional representative from Western North Carolina.

First to announce was Army veteran Josh Remillard, a Democrat, and not far behind him were Democrat Jay Carey, who also served in the Army, and Republican Wendy Nevarez, a Navy veteran. Those three candidates join an increasingly crowded field of Cawthorn challengers that also includes Democrats Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Eric Gash and Bo Hess, who announced his candidacy last Wednesday.

Four veterans ran for NC-11 in 2020 after then Rep. Mark Meadows vacated the seat to become Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Of those four, Democrat Moe Davis had the strongest showing, advancing all the way to the General Election, where Cawthorn beat him by 12 points. Unlike Davis, who was a lawyer career Air Force Officer, the three veterans who have declared for 2022 were enlisted.

Cawthorn himself had a strong appeal with veterans — a group that made up a sizable chunk of the voting bloc in NC-11 — in 2020. During the campaign, Cawthorn claimed he was on track to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, before a car crash changed everything.

Cawthorn himself had a strong appeal with veterans — a group that made up a sizable chunk of the voting bloc in NC-11 — in 2020. During the campaign, Cawthorn claimed he was on track to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, before a car crash changed everything.

However, an Asheville Watchdog story from August of last year disputed that claim. That story cited a deposition as part of a lawsuit Cawthorn filed against the driver’s insurance company. When asked about his purported Naval Academy admission, he offered a conflicting account. Here’s the excerpt from that story:

The lawyer asked Cawthorn: “[A]t some point in time, you were notified by the Naval

Academy that you did not get in?”

“Yes, sir,” Cawthorn replied.

The lawyer continued: “Was it – it was before the accident?”

Cawthorn answered: “It was, sir.”

All three of the candidates interviewed for this story indicated that their desire to run for congress increased significantly after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Just prior to 1,000 or so people storming the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump in the presidential election, Cawthorn spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally.

“This crowd has some fight in it,” Cawthorn told the large throng of Trump supporters.

Jay Carey

Jay Carey, 50, is originally from Edison, New Jersey, but like so many others, not long after leaving the military, he found his way to Western North Carolina and has lived in Henderson County for three years.

Carey served 20 years in the Army and is retired with a 100% VA disability rating. When he was in, Carey was a tank master gunner M1 Abrams tanks. During his enlistment, he saw plenty of combat zones in plenty of countries, including multiple deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.

Like Remillard, Carey said transitioning back to civilian life was no easy task.

“After 20 years in the military, you’re not suited for civilian life,” he said.

But now that Carey has been out for several years, he decided now is the time to start putting his lessons learned in the Army to serve the country in a different way.

“Things I learned in the military and in regular life lines up with a congressional seat,” he said.

On April 15, Carey announced his campaign in a press conference.

According to a Hendersonville Times-News story on the announcement, Carey recalled the struggles he’d encountered during the military and since.

“It wasn’t easy for me to admit that I needed help but many people, especially in the military, see it as a weakness and not a strength to admit you have a problem,” Carey is quoted as saying int that story. “It’s up to us to change that narrative and treat people with a broken spirit with the same empathy that we treat people with a broken leg.”

“I’m asking you to join me if you are fed up with the fear-mongering, half-truths, incompetence and false warrior bravado of our current representative,” he later added. “Madison Cawthorn, he isn’t working for us. He’s not interested in supporting legislation that has put money in the pockets of hardworking Western North Carolinians. He fails to represent us on issues that really matter.”

In his interview with The Mountaineer, Carey said major improvements in broadband infrastructure and regulation, healthcare and education are needed.

“My message is that the things that affect one party affect both parties … And we need federal funding without increased federal oversight,” he said.

Leaning on his own experience in Afghanistan, Carey offered an opinion on the recent announcement from President Biden that the United States Military would be pulling all troops out of that country by Sept. 11.

“It should have been 10 years ago,” he said. “It was a confusing mission. We had no clear goals, and the goals they set weren’t attainable.”

Carey said if he is elected, he’d want to work to represent constituents of all political affiliations and reach compromises to find solutions to key issues.

“We’re all the same,” he said. “I believe helping people doesn’t have a political party. I’m not just interested in what Democrats or Independents are facing. I’m interesting in issues Republicans are facing also.”

“Far-right, far-left, it doesn’t work for this country,” he added. “We have to stop following a cult of personality like the Republicans have with trump. We have to start putting the people of America first.”

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