Newton ousts longtime legislator Swindell


Geoffrey Cooper

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A longtime Democratic lawmaker has lost his re-election bid, ending a 10-year run in the N.C. General Assembly.

Wilson attorney and Republican political newcomer Buck Newton defeated political veteran N.C. Sen. A.B. Swindell, D-Nash, in this year’s midterm election. Unofficial numbers from the N.C. State Board of Election show that Newton gathered 53 percent to Swindell’s total of close to 47 percent. There was more than 3,400 votes separating Newton from Swindell.

Swindell’s defeat ends a long run by the Nash County lawmaker, who served as one of the state’s chief budget writers.

Newton, 42, said the win was surprising and did not expect voters to heavily back him in his senatorial run.

“I’m still trying to realize whether if all of this real,” Newton said. “I owe a lot of my success to the voters in this district. We’ve made so many friends along the way. I’m just so grateful.”

The turning point in the election may have come when mailers swarmed District 11 stating that Newton was arrested for selling drugs, Newton said. The N.C. Democratic Party sent out a mailer against Newton last month that inferred he was arrested on eight felony drug offenses, including selling cocaine 20 years ago in Watauga County.

Newton has presented court documents to show the charges were dismissed in 1991 and was a case of mistaken identity. Newton has sued the N.C. Democratic Party and Swindell over the mailers.

Newton said the real work will be to shave away wasteful spending and combat a state budget shortfall of close to $3 billion. The balance will have to be met with maintaining teacher jobs and not raising taxes.

“We have a tough task ahead of us. It’s not going to be easy and I’m going to need as much help and support,” Newton said. “The task are tough, but I know we can manage.”

Swindell was not available for comment.