HENDERSONVILLE — With his swearing-in set for Jan. 3, Congressman-elect Chuck Edwards has set his sights about as high as a freshman in the House of Representatives possibly can.

[Editor’s update: Rep. Edwards took the oath of office Jan. 7 and is no longer Congressman-elect.]

He hopes to secure a spot on the institution’s most-coveted committee: Appropriations. A 62-year-old businessman who owns six McDonald’s restaurants — including the one where he started working behind the counter at 16 — Edwards realizes he’s ambitious, to say the least.

“I’ve been reminding the folks in D.C. that I’m not the average freshman,” Edwards said. “I’ve served in the North Carolina Senate for the last six years. Each of those have been on appropriations, four of those in chairing appropriations. So, I’m working to leverage my experience.”

Edwards spoke with Asheville Watchdog Dec. 20 in his downtown Hendersonville office, where he has run his McDonald’s operation for 18 years. Sitting in a conference room lined with fanciful art prints depicting former presidents sitting around card tables or shooting pool — mostly Republicans but also a Democratic print — Edwards detailed his plans for his first term in office as Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District representative.

“I’m going to make a concerted effort to leave my firearms at home when I approach an airport,” Chuck Edwards says. // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

He vows to bring dignity back to the office after two tumultuous years that featured nearly continuous scandals from his predecessor, fellow Republican Madison Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress.

“I’m going to make a concerted effort to leave my firearms at home when I approach an airport,” Edwards said with a smile, a reference to Cawthorn being caught twice with firearms at airports.

A staunch conservative who unseated Cawthorn in the Republican primary before soundly defeating Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in November’s general election, Edwards discussed immigration, gun control, abortion, the economy and other priorities he plans to address, as well as the untimely death of his son in 2018, during a 50-minute interview.

He hopes the federal government does not take up a national abortion law, he said, as he believes that should be left to the states. And he’d like to see a wall completed at the border with Mexico.

Edwards, who studied business at Blue Ridge Community College, said in general Congress could use a more business-like approach.

Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper said Edwards has “extremely low odds” of getting on Appropriations, the committee that controls government spending.

Bronwyn Lance, left, a Leicester native and longtime staffer for several Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate, is Congressman-elect Chuck Edwards’ chief of staff.

“But it’s a positive sign that we have a member of Congress that knows where the action is and knows that his odds are low,” Cooper said. “I don’t think he’ll likely end up on that, but it sounds like he knows that. And particularly after the last two years, it’s good to know we have a member of Congress who understands how the process works.”

Cooper has been impressed with Edwards’ choices for Chief of Staff, Bronwyn Lance, a Leicester native who’s worked in high-level positions for several Republican members of Congress, and District Chief Chris Burns, another mountain native and the owner of Summit Marketing Group. Lance is the first woman in her position from the 11th Congressional District.

“These are smart, experienced people who know Washington and understand what representation is about,” Cooper said, noting that Cawthorn, 26, had some very young, inexperienced hires on staff. “From a professionalism standpoint or perspective, those hires make a lot of sense, and it sends a signal, although ideologically he may be very conservative,  he’s somebody creating a staff that knows how to run a congressional office.”

Congressman-elect Chuck Edwards, left, stands next to his District Director, Chris Burns. Burns is a mountain native who’s owned a marketing firm.

On the ideological front, Cooper pointed out that Edwards, in terms of his voting record, is even more conservative than Cawthorn.

Speaking of the divisiveness in our country and his conservative stances, Edwards said he believes he can represent all residents of the district, because we have “far more in common than on points where we differ.” He cited what he considers a universal belief in law and order in society, and parents’ desire for their children to have “a fair shake in life.”

“I believe that we all want to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor,” Edwards continued. “I believe that we all want government out of our lives, and my challenge is to communicate more of those points in which I believe that we have common ground and avoid the toxic language that we see way too often in politics today.”

But Edwards also stresses he has some principles that he will not change.

“Pro-Life, protecting the Second Amendment – those are the things,” Edwards said.

‘I’ve always supported the states’ rights to decide’

On his campaign website, Edwards stated his belief that life starts at conception. In the spring, when the U.S. Supreme Court was set to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the United States, Edwards told the Asheville Citizen Times that the Roe decision was “an abomination.”

In short, he fully supports the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

“I’ve always supported the states rights to decide, and that’s the pretext of the Dobbs decision,” Edwards said.

Asked if he’s totally against any abortion, Edwards said he believes “society in general believes that there should be a point in time” when abortion is no longer legal.

“The question is, what is that point?” Edwards said. “Most of the controversy that I’ve heard is that.”

“I certainly believe an abortion should be allowed if it’s a case where the mother’s life is in jeopardy, as is the case in North Carolina state right now.”

CHUCK EDWARDS

Some Democrats, he maintains, “believe government should have no restrictions whatsoever, which would indicate they would believe abortion is legal right up until the time of birth and partial birth abortions.”

Edwards did allow a caveat for abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

“I certainly believe an abortion should be allowed if it’s a case where the mother’s life is in jeopardy, as is the case in North Carolina state right now,” Edwards said.

Asked about his stance regarding cases of sexual assault or incest, Edwards referred back to state law.

“Well, those are covered under whatever time limit that’s in place,” Edwards said. “For example, right now in North Carolina, someone that falls in those categories has up until 20 weeks to make that decision now.”

A Dec. 23 New York Times article states, “Most abortions are now banned in at least 13 states as laws restricting the procedure take effect following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Edwards said he believes Congress should stay out of it.

“I hope that the federal government does not take this up. I’ve said all along, this is a state issue,” Edwards said. “And my hope is that I won’t be faced with that decision on the House floor. I’ll advocate for the states’ rights to decide.”

On  gun rights, and his son’s death

When it comes to gun rights, Edwards espouses nearly unfettered gun ownership, and he opposes so-called “red flag laws” that allow law enforcement agencies to remove guns from mentally unstable people.

“I’m totally opposed to red flag laws,” Edwards said. “That’s just a way for a judicial system or someone harboring a grudge to take the rights away from a legal, law-abiding citizen.”

Edwards has held a federal firearms license, or FFL, for several years, but he said he’s giving that up because of his election to Congress and federal ethics rules.

“I’m totally opposed to red flag laws. That’s just a way for a judicial system or someone harboring a grudge to take the rights away from a legal, law-abiding citizen.”

CHUCK EDWARDS

“I will cease operation by Jan. 3 on firearms transactions,” Edwards said. “Members of Congress are prohibited from being engaged in a trade that is licensed or regulated by the federal government.”

Edwards said he primarily used the license to receive shipped firearms for other buyers. He will maintain the license but let it go inactive. 

“I’m saddened to do it,” Edwards said. “I started this as somewhat of a hobby. It was a goal of my son that at some point we would own a gun store on the side. We lost him. And in the meantime, the license that we applied for showed up. And it’s too difficult to get to let it go.”

Edwards’ son, Christopher Andrew Edwards, died May 18, 2018, at his home, according to his obituary in the Hendersonville Times-News. He was 36 years old and left behind a wife and then-2-year-old daughter.

A graduate of Hendersonville High School who attended Caldwell Community College and Appalachian State University, the younger Edwards earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix. He then joined the family business, the C. Edwards Group, where he worked for 20 years.

According to his death certificate, Christopher Edwards died of a “self-inflicted gunshot.”

Speaking of his son, Edwards looked down and became pensive for a moment, but he declined to elaborate on what happened and how it affected him.

“I would only say that it’s unnatural for parents to lose their children, and it leaves a vacancy that just can’t be replaced,” Edwards said.

“I would only say that it’s unnatural for parents to lose their children, and it leaves a vacancy that just can’t be replaced,” Edwards said. // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

Edwards’ good friend, Don Rasnick, who owned multiple McDonald’s restaurants in the Asheville area before retiring, said Edwards’ loss of his son clearly affected him, but it didn’t make him “harder or more cautious” toward people.

“He was looking for Chris to be the heir to the McDonald’s business,” Rasnick said. “He was involved working side by side with Teresa and Chuck.”

Teresa Edwards has run the McDonald’s business while Chuck Edwards was in Raleigh, and she’ll continue to do so while he’s in Washington. The couple has been married for 41 years.

“We’ve learned since the loss of our son that there are more parents than any of us ever realized with similar circumstances,” Teresa Edwards said in an emailed response to questions. “Our hearts bleed for those families because we understand the permanent vacancies in their lives — vacancies that are accentuated during holiday seasons.”

In a February 2022 article, the Pew Research Center analyzed gun deaths in the United States.

“Though they tend to get less public attention than gun-related murders, suicides have long accounted for the majority of U.S. gun deaths,” the Pew article states. “In 2020, 54 percent of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (24,292), while 43 percent were murders (19,384), according to the Centers for Disease Control.”

Prevent Firearm Suicide, part of the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control, states on its website: “The firearm suicide epidemic has been growing, with the firearm suicide rate increasing 12.5 percent over the last decade (2010-2019).”

“2019 showed a slight reprieve, with the rate dropping by 2.84% from 2018,” the nonprofit states. “Still, 23,941 Americans died by firearm suicide in 2019, capping a decade during which more than 200,000 people were lost to firearm suicide.”

In follow-up questions after the interview, Asheville Watchdog asked Lance if Edwards wanted to say anything about depression, suicide, or suicide prevention, or if his son’s death has in any way changed or influenced his thinking on gun rights and the Second Amendment. She referred back to Teresa Edwards’ statement.

During the interview, Edwards fielded a question about the plague of gun violence in the country and where he stands on gun control.

“The folks that are advocating for gun control are trying to put restrictions on legal, law-abiding gun owners,” Edwards said. “And I do not advocate for tightening restrictions for people that want to legally own firearms.”

The country, Edwards said, needs to “get back to our moral roots.”

“I’m looking for the commonalities between some of the violence that we’ve seen,” Edwards said. “For example, how many of those folks spent how many hours on playing violent video games? How many of those folks are fatherless? How many of those folks come from broken homes? I believe those are the real issues that are facing our society today.”

A Knack for Business

Chuck Edwards was born in Waynesville in September 1960 to Charlene Grooms and Marion Edwards. The family moved to Henderson County, and Edwards graduated from West Henderson High School. 

At age 16 he started working behind the counter at the McDonald’s store on Spartanburg Highway in Hendersonville. 

“I realized real quick that I had a knack for business,” Edwards said. “And this business is just a series of commonsense decisions. I had the good fortune of working for several folks that saw some leadership in me.”

But back then he did not see himself making a career out of McDonald’s.

“In fact, my goal when I started working at McDonald’s was to be a forest ranger,” Edwards said. “I realized I had a knack for business, and I could leverage that to provide a life for my family that my parents weren’t able to provide for us.”

Chuck and Teresa Edwards also have a daughter, Kim Edwards, who’s a medical assistant at a physician’s office in Hendersonville. 

Chuck Edwards worked while attending Blue Ridge Community College, rising into and then staying in middle management with McDonald’s for about 25 years. In an October news article, Edwards told the Smoky Mountain News he didn’t receive a degree from BRCC but had gone on to take business classes with UNC-Asheville and other colleges online.

At McDonald’s, Edwards said he worked in restaurant site development, equipment selection and new venue coordination.

“I lived here in Hendersonville, and I drove 7,000 miles a month covering seven Southeastern states,” Edwards said. “A vice president came to me and said, ‘Would you like to own a McDonald’s in your hometown?’ And here I am. Never looked back.”

Edwards and the company structured a deal so he could afford the purchase. He had a 401(k) retirement plan and stock options that he fell back on to get into the ownership end of the business, but it was still a stressful move.

“I ended up having to borrow $2 million to get into business, and going home every night knowing I owed somebody $2 million would definitely keep me up at night,” Edwards said. “And it’s certainly fueled a work ethic to help make sure that I was successful, right?”

Teresa Edwards said via email her husband is “VERY driven, more so than just about anybody else I know.”

“It’s one of the things I admired about him from the first time I met him,” she said. “Chuck came from a broken home and poor background, and he has always wanted more for our family, and the families of everyone he comes in contact with — personal, business or (constituents). I think it is his fear of failure and knowing he can always do more, that creates the relentless work ethic we all see in him.”

Her husband’s leadership skills have carried him to where he is now, she said.

“Chuck has always had the ability to see through differences, set aside personalities and concentrate on the issues at hand,” Teresa Edwards said. “He demands excellence and is intolerant of sloppiness and laziness. Chuck focuses on realistic outcomes and is driven to make a difference in people’s lives.”

The C. Edwards Group now owns three McDonald’s in Hendersonville, including the one he started at on Spartanburg Highway, and one in Brevard and two in Canton. In all, his company provides 280 jobs.

Taking a PPP loan that was forgiven

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country and caused widespread shutdowns, Edwards’ company took out a $1.12 million Paycheck Protection Program loan, as reported by the Smoky Mountain News in September. The program was designed to keep companies afloat during the pandemic, and help make payroll.

“Edwards’ loan and the accrued interest were eventually forgiven,” Smoky Mountain News reported, noting Edwards was staunchly opposed to President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt.

Beach-Ferrara, an ordained minister and member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, lost to Edwards in the 15-county 11th Congressional District by a margin of 53.79 percent to 44.51 percent, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

While she believes Edwards made his positions very clear to voters, Beach-Ferrara feels Edwards is too extreme and follows “the same lineage of Mark Meadows and Madison Cawthorn.” Meadows, formerly the Congressman from the 11th Congressional, went on to become former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff and became embroiled in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“It’s an approach to politics that’s about forcing the government into people’s lives, and it’s about putting corporations over working people,” Beach-Ferrara said of Edwards’ positions and past behavior. “It’s about supporting government benefits when it benefits you and opposing it when it benefits someone who’s struggling.”

Edwards said former President Trump designed the PPP “to prevent a total and absolute collapse of our economy when businesses were ordered to shut down or scale back.”

“Without it, as was the case with my business, employees would have lost the jobs they needed to help their families,” Edwards said. “Loan forgiveness was built into the program when employers demonstrated that the funds went to save jobs — just as the program was designed.”

Regarding proposed student loan forgiveness, Edwards said that’s “a direct government giveaway designed to generate votes for Democrats, and is a slap in the face to everyone who has paid off their loan.”

A pledge for openness

For his part, Edwards said constituent service will be the number one goal of his office, and that cuts across party lines.

“In the North Carolina Senate, the mantra of my office was first and foremost constituent services,” Edwards said. “That’ll be the same mantra by which we beat our drum in my congressional office.”

Edwards has chosen Hendersonville, county seat of Henderson County, the second largest county in his district, for his “flagship” congressional office. He said they’re “exploring the need and feasibility of other offices in the district.”

“My focus will be not on the number of offices but on leveraging technology to be more accessible and expediently responsive to those who need our help or want to share their thoughts,” Edwards said in a follow-up email. “I will most certainly be making myself and my team available, not necessarily at times that are convenient for us, but at times that are more convenient for constituents. That includes after normal work hours and on weekends.”

Edwards also said he also hopes to “build a relationship with the media, a truthful relationship,” as “transparency” is important to him.

“I’d like to see the media refrain from making a story out of a slanted headline, which happens quite often,” Edwards said. “And I’d like to build a partnership to keep the folks in Western North Carolina fully informed.”

His predecessor, Cawthorn, famously claimed his tenure would be about “comms,” or communications, not legislation, and he had a contentious relationship with all but right-wing media.

Edwards said he’s taking a different approach, emphasizing legislation and transparency. His office has hired a team of three legislative staff in Washington, D.C., he said.

“We recognize we have to have a comms staff, but we’re focusing on legislation in D.C., and we’re focusing on constituent services here at home,” Edwards said.

Rasnick said he doesn’t think Edwards “is in this for the limelight, as some folks seek out. I think he’s in it to make a difference.”

He said he fully expects Edwards to address key issues, including such controversial ones as immigration, but also believes the congressman-elect has “the ability to work both sides of the aisle.”

“He’s got the ability to not make everything so divisive, to figure out a way to get things done,” Rasnick said.

But he will support Trump if nominated

Edwards did acknowledge both the primary and general elections in 2022 were divisive, but he said his goal is “to make folks’ lives better. Here in the mountains, issues affecting people’s lives see no party boundaries.”

“Whether you’re left, whether you’re right, or whether you’re in the middle right now, you’re paying too much for gas, too much for groceries, too much on your credit card debt,” Edwards said. “Those are the issues, the real kitchen-table issues that I believe are affecting people today.”

But Edwards has been a staunch supporter of perhaps the most divisive figure in American politics over the last decade, former President Donald Trump. 

“I’ve been very supportive of President Trump’s policies,” Edwards said. “His agenda was exactly what America needed at the time, and we’d be in far better shape if he were president today and we had those policies in place.”

Asked if he will support Trump in his 2024 presidential bid, Edwards said, “I’m going to support the Republican nominee.”

Trump continues to peddle the false allegation that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, despite losing dozens of court cases, including many decided by Republican judges. Asked if he believes Biden’s election was legitimate, Edwards equivocated.

“I’ve been very supportive of President Trump’s policies. His agenda was exactly what America needed at the time, and we’d be in far better shape if he were president today and we had those policies in place.”

Chuck EDWARDS

“It’s time to move on,” Edwards said. “We’ve got another presidential election ahead of us. I’m focused on the future.”

Reminded that the question could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” Edwards said, “It’s irrelevant. Biden was sworn in as the president. He was certified. I’m looking at the future.”

Cooper, the political scientist, said he sees Edwards, like a lot of other Republican politicians, walking a fine line when it comes to Trump. Overall, the 11th Congressional voted resoundingly for Trump in 2020, with Buncombe being the only county to go for Biden.

“Edwards is not going to walk around in a MAGA hat, but he’s also supportive of Republicans in power,” Cooper said. “And if Donald Trump is the ticket to Republican power, he’s going to stick with him. Given the district he represents, I’d be surprised if (Edwards) came out and gave a full-throated endorsement of the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election.”

Tough on immigration 

Edwards is much more interested in talking about energy independence for America, balancing the budget, or addressing immigration. On that last topic, he said we need “an all-of-the-above approach” to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

“We definitely need a wall. We definitely need to restore the sanctity and the integrity of our border,” Edwards said. “We definitely need to hold federal agencies accountable to pass or to follow the laws that are already in place.”

He’ said he would like to see tighter rules on immigrants who want to apply for asylum in the United States.

“We definitely need a wall. We definitely need to restore the sanctity and the integrity of our border.”

CHUCK EDWARDS

“We definitely need a ‘hold them in Mexico policy,’ and we need to protect the sanctity of our border,” he said. “You don’t have a nation if you can’t control your border.”

Edwards said he favors keeping in place “Title 42,” a Trump-era program designed during the pandemic to keep immigrants at the border out of the United States for health-related reasons. “I believe we need to adapt to a policy that would outlive the pandemic,” Edwards said.

In the statehouse, Edwards sponsored legislation that outlawed sanctuary cities in North Carolina, and he is highly critical of President Biden’s policies toward immigration.

Edwards lives in Flat Rock in Henderson County, the top apple-producing county in North Carolina. Farmers have relied on immigrant labor for decades to grow and harvest the crop, and he said it’s “too difficult” for growers to qualify for immigrant labor under current programs. 

Under the current H-2B immigrant labor visa plan, farmers can’t “trade labor rights among themselves, even though one farmer or one particular crop might need labor at one time and another needs it at an adjacent time.”

“So, there’s lots of ways the agricultural community is telling me that we can make that easier for them,” Edwards said, noting these issues are “definitely on the radar” as he prepares to be sworn into office.

Rasnick said Edwards has “great common sense” and will apply it to whatever the topic is.

“Chuck has the ability to analyze about any situation and break it down into components that make sense, then use good judgment to move forward,” Rasnick said. “He’s very analytical and studies all angles of it, for sure.”

He’ll also carry with him perhaps the number one mantra of McDonald’s fast food success, Rasnick said, namely that customer service is number one.

Edwards shows a mockup cover for his proposed book “Everything I know about politics, I learned at McDonald’s.” // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

“He’s learned great people skills,” said Rasnick, a registered Republican who said he doesn’t always agree with Edwards but feels he always listens. “Some people will hear people talk but they won’t hear what they’re saying. Chuck has that ability — I don’t know if it’s intuition or what — to understand what people need.”

At the end of the interview, Edwards walked out of the conference room briefly and returned with a book, “Everything I Know About Business, I Learned at McDonald’s,” by Paul Facella, a regional vice president in New York state.

A smile spread across Edwards’ face as he told a reporter he was about to share something he’d never before shown the media.

“And I vow that when my political career is over, I’m going to write the sequel,” Edwards said. “In fact, I’ve already designed the cover.”

He held up the faux cover, which was almost identical to Facella’s book. 

Except it featured Edwards’ name and this title: “Everything I Know About Politics I Learned at McDonald’s.”


Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and surrounding communities. John Boyle has been covering western North Carolina since the 20th century. You can reach him at (828) 337-0941, or via email at jboyle@avlwatchdog.org.

Join the Conversation

58 Comments

  1. There are plenty of laws this country makes that ‘infringe’ on the peoples rights to be completely reckless and stupid or hurt others. Like don’t walk signage, like stopping for school buses, like wearing seat belts, like stopping for red lights or stop signs, like yielding to people crossing the street, like walking on sidewalks instead of down the middle of the street, like obeying road laws when you’re riding a bicycle, like not entering someone else’s home or business, like not stealing, like getting arrested for driving drunk, like getting tickets for speeding, for just a few examples. They are there for the safety of all because after years of horrors, people and lawmakers realize that those things help save lives. When Edwards talks about no gun laws absolutely infringing on a persons rights to own firearms, no matter the size or military capability, then he has lost credibility. There is no excuse for not making safety laws that protect others right to life, after all, isn’t he pro life? And btw speaking of pro life, when he says he believes in states rights to say whether abortion should be legal or not, how about leaving it to the women saying whether it should be legal or not. Let just the women vote in this subject and then tell me what happens. Because men should never be involved in women’s healthcare, and in making just random laws just to stop abortion because they’re ‘pro life’….when convenient or as a motto….it is obvious that men know nothing further about being a woman. Although there are many more subjects he talks about, in just these two areas of the interview, Edwards show us the kind of closed minded man that he’ll be for those that are not 100% like minded in his constituency. You can’t learn everything at McDonalds, and it is sad that he’s proud that that’s his entire world where he’s learned anything about people or politics besides appropriations…we are not commodities, we are people that have needs….and in my opinion, he is just another elected official who will ignore many of the people’s needs who live here in WNC.

  2. Perfect. My congressional representative holds views that are 100% the opposite of my own. Great.

    1. linda, that is how elections work. only one candidate can be elected at a time. we do nott have 2 reps for every district. someone wins, someone loses.

        1. please explain how the district is gerrymandered. it runs from the tenn. border to a well defined line to the east.

        2. Our 11th district is NOT gerrymandered. Though it favors Republicans, I still would rather be in a district that is geographically tight than one where it is gerrymandered to favor any party, even if that means my vote is in the minority, which it was this time.

    2. Until the Democrats and Independents back a moderate liberal candidate who can actually win, then we are doomed to the likes of Edwards. Like it or not, it’s the truth.

  3. May you live for a thousand years, John Boyle. Readers of The Watchdog are so grateful that you are finally able to wield your great journalistic skill. WNC will be a better place for your contributions to our need to know what the heck is going on around us (and behind our backs).

  4. Our new congressman says that he wants to serve all of his constituents, but I’m not convinced. Generally candidates are visible and available during campaign season at least, but I’ve not seen the man in the flesh. All of his appearances were in front of closed groups of like-minded individuals (Republican women’s groups, small business owners, gun-loving sportsmen’s club.) He’s said his major issues are the border and gun rights. Really? Does he think the southern border is front of mind in western North Carolina? He’s in the forced birth camp, but has had a hand in blocking the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, which funds critical health care to mothers and babies, and helps keep rural hospitals open. He says he wants to dismantle Obamacare. Where, then, will his employees access health insurance? He voted for a bill in the General Assembly that would allow any parent who disapproved of a book or curriculum topic to file suit at taxpayer expense. Meanwhile, North Carolina teachers are among the most poorly paid in the country. Congressman, you will be representing a diverse district. Please get out beyond your comfort zone and talk to the rest of us.

  5. No surprise that Edwards is equivocating about whether he would again support a traitor for president. I tried three times during the primary campaign to get him to say whether he thought Biden was fairly elected, and each inquiry–by voice mail, email and snail mail–was ignored. So we wound up voting for someone else in the primary.

  6. Will he actually listen to the 44% of us who voted for his opponent? Highly doubtful. His level of extreme makes that nearly impossible. Let’s all contact him often to remind him of his pledge.

  7. “‘I believe that we all want government out of our lives,…'” My conservative friends felt this way until their elderly parents in nursing homes spent all their money and had to be placed on Medicaid or kicked to the curb. Then they were all for Medicaid, and of course Medicare to cover healthcare costs. Conservatives talk big about less/no gov’t until they need help.

  8. I voted for him in the primary, mostly so that Cawthorn would not be re-elected. I later voted for his opponent in the general election when he refused to acknowledge that Trump had lost the election and he refused to moderate his position on abortion to allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. He is clearly rigid in his positions, and unlikely to truly consider modifying his positions.

  9. John,

    Did Edwards say anything about his plan to continue to run Asheville from Washington as he did while in the NC General Assembly?

  10. Beach-Farrara doesn’t agree with Chucks conservative views but the majority of us in WNC did. I am looking forward to Chuck representing us in Congress and firmly believe he will do an excellent job.

  11. Thank you for this profile. Even though Edwards doesn’t seem quite the conman his two predecessors in this seat were – too soon to say – I don’t think anyone will be surprised if his actual history doesn’t quite match up with the PR spin he, his wife and his aides are putting on it.

    Aside from the obvious hypocritical stances on things (quelle surprise!), one burning question in my mind is how on earth did a 40-something middle manager at McDonald’s with no degree manage to secure a $2 million loan?? The beginning of his success story yet sure seems like there might be some “there” there if any enterprising journalist wants to look… just saying.

    Good luck to all of us over the next two years.

  12. Let’s be very very clear about this…. Edwards is a card carrying member of the extreme right-wing of the GOP and that means one thing only…. as decidedly undemocratic as they come ….i.e. the curtailing of voter rights, the continued gerrymandering of congressional voting districts, and the weakening of state and federal oversight in regard to our elections et al. So, despite his completely empty and disingenuous “less divisiveness” rhetoric… it will be more of the same from him and his demented fringe MAGA supporters for the next two years. sigh.

  13. I signed up for Asheville Watchdog because John Boyle joined. This article is exactly the reason I did so. Thank you, John, for years of excellent journalism!

  14. His poor, depressed son died by suicide with a gun and yet he is fiercely opposed to red flag laws. So he wouldn’t have wanted someone to take away his son’s gun and instead get him treatment for his depression? That is VERY messed up!

  15. Good article on Chuck Edwards. Having someone home-grown (raised here and understanding the history or our area and folks) in leadership for our area is a breath of fresh air. Edwards seems to understand the areas that need to be addressed with the morals, knowledge and background to get things done. Hopefully he will have the strong support of those he represents to bring back mountain values to our area.

    1. Right… Edward’s “mountain values” …and those would be -the last time I checked anyway- the same old tired hillbilly whine…. you ain’t gettin my guns! And, of course …that youngin got herself in trouble and she’s juss gonna have to have that baby! Could you all just disappear …like back into the last century or so …just saying 😉

  16. “The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime”
    — Supreme Court Chief Justice
    Warren Burger

  17. I wonder whether John asked Chuck about the $1,738,000 of tainted money donated to get him elected from FTX crypto-currency crooks under cover-name of “Results for NC?” Most of it went to oppose Madison Cawthorne, but about a quarter of a million went directly to the Edwards campaign. Does he intend to return it as several other politicians have done? Also, Edwards should be asked about his possible conflict of interest in sponsoring a bill in the NC Senate to make huge public ‘incentives’ to corporations even more secretive (such as secretly negotiated deal bringing war-profiteer Raytheon/Pratt&Whitney to Asheville (under an anonymous moniker of “Project Ranger.”) Edwards was quoted in The Hendersonville Lightning on 1/17/2021 as saying, “I was the last cog in the wheel. We were at an impasse until I got the call and we were working against the clock.” Some of this was utility and highway infrastructure which benefitted Biltmore Farms which promised to give 100 acres of a 1,000 acre site to Raytheon as part of the deal. Environmental permits were fast-tracked and public opposition (which exploded when it was finally revealed it was a Raytheon plant) to the essentially done deal was ignored. This secret dealing in government incentives encourages corruption AND violates conservative free-enterprise values that most Republicans claim to value, as do secretive campaign contributions. What tit-for-tat was involved? I’m sure he’d say the secrecy is needed so we can compete with other states, but it also seems Edwards could be covering up for corporate welfare cronyism. I still hope he’ll oppose more wars and wasteful spending to benefit corporations like Raytheon, but it doesn’t look promising. (BTW: Edwards’ Democratic opponent Jasmine-Beach Ferrara also signed the non-disclosure agreement and voted for the $27 million in property tax breaks to Raytheon.)

    1. I must correct my comment above because only $700,000 of the $1,738,000 money spent to elect Edwards was tainted money from FTX. That is still a big chunk of change, that the Edwards campaign might reasonably return to avoid any appearance of impropriety and to discourage others from thinking they will take tainted corporate money. Not that the big money from the realtors and fossil fuel people, etc… who are overdeveloping our area is that much less tainted!

  18. McDonald’s, Gun sales on the side, Domestic Terrorist Trump, Corporate welfare…oh yeah, Chuck, we know who you are…you’ve got 60 days to prove me wrong.

  19. I sure wish NC-11 would elect a true representative, not one who caters to the MAGA right and kisses Trump’s backside. The area has a knack for picking real losers; Meadows, Cawthorne and now Edwards. If only Buncombe County/Asheville could be carved out from the fringes of WNC and have its own district.

  20. I wonder how this Mountain area who have managed if businesses and people had not moved transferred here. Would cell phones, or hospitals be around ? Would young people have schools or be picking apples all year. Change is scary but not evolving is a lot worse.

  21. He interviews as an extremely misguided individual. Also known as a radical right wing politician. I’m curious as to how he plans to represent the 44% of his constituents who he doesn’t agree with.

  22. i’ve been staring at this comment page for 20 min. and finally decided to tell a vignette, with the hook at the end. i will be as fast as possible just to get there. so here goes…..was on a downtown a’ville jury a number(5??) of years ago. it was a traffic case with cops following a guy/drinking? as i remember down 25, etc . pull him over, he could lose his license…..and i got picked last for this? we listened , thought slam dunk against the guy, guilty….let’s vote. so we went to jury room, manilla packet on table, i perused it and sat down. before we could start to talk, a guy(i think edwards) speaks up and says ‘folks, i’m _______ and i own /run 5 or 6 mcdonalds and i’ve done this/jury foreman before and if you’ll let me we can get this ‘slam dunk’ case done and go home. #1-i’m veggie so i wasn’t too impressed and #2. i thought him to be reasonably copasetic enough to do just that,and #3. i wondered if he used that ‘i own 5 or 6 mickieD’s to pick up women….. so he got the job as foreman. you have one thing to do , only one……and that is to sign the sheet of paper with two lines underlined–innocent or guilty. thassit, one line. so we chatted, found the slam dunk part after a bit and said sign and someone get the deputy to alert the judge/defendent. we trudge into the woodenpalace of a courtroom, very still and reverent like……and the judge asks for the manilla envelope. we are 15’ from the judge’s right side. still… ,no sound in the empty courtroom. the judge begins to read ‘is this your verdict’, polls all of us and begins to read the verdict, very quiet. then he gets to part about ‘we find the defendant……innocent of the……..’. –at that moment i and at least two other jurors shouted, shouted in the quiet(interupting the judge) “NO!”……’. what? the judge says, then go back and redo your vote and sign the proper line on the form. we trudge back to the room and i walk by this guy and say to him/edwards i believe,
    ‘you had one job, just one. burger king for everybody!’ he may have apologized, i don’t know but i was only thinking about the additional half hour i spent there watching him sign the right line, correctly. also, wonder if he can sign or punch the correct button when ‘kev’ or someone tells him to.

  23. i have seen a lot of people say that “the district is gerrymandered.” acording to WCU professor chris cooper in an interview in the nov. 28 2022 citizen times, the answer is NO. chuck edwards won because even though asheville/Buncombe have grown in population and gotten bluer, the rest of the counties in the district have also seen growth, and gotten redder. these are the facts.

    1. correction on my comment. it was not an interview with mr.cooper. it was his response to an “answer man” question about gerrymandering. apologies.

    2. So interesting that Edwards feels that restricting the gun “rights” of any and every person who wants a firearm is insufferable, but restricting….nay, totally removing…….the rights of one half of the population of this country to control their own bodies is perfectly OK.
      I well remember, and will never forget how Chuck Edwards got the Republican General Assembly to overrule the will of the people in Asheville in order to force Districts on Elections so that a Republican could be elected.
      That seems to be his political outlook, and as such indicates exactly how he plans to “represent” the people of the 11th.

  24. “I believe that we all want government out of our lives” except when government is handing out $1.12 million in welfare for Edwards’ corporation and its staff. Or when it’s barring reproductive freedoms and rights for female citizens and their families.

    Edwards believes “in law and order in society”, except when law enforcement gets in the ways of armed insurrection of the US Capitol, or when the FBI or IRS is investigating his political allies.

    ‘I’ve always supported the states’ rights to decide’. Even when states wanted to bar citizens from voting and attending schools and universities? Even when states rights was used as a pretense for civil war and the perpetuation of slavery in 1861? Where would we be without a strong federal government in these instances?

  25. Just another Trump cutout–interchangeable with Cawthorn.
    HOW does someone so diametrically opposed to our Ashevillians get elected?
    That’s a rhetorical question, in case there is any doubt.

  26. Congressman-Elect Chuck Edwards: ‘I’m Not the Average Freshman’ ….yeah, for sure.. more like: ..Below Average and Then Some. What is it with the 11th district that we routinely send to the US Congress just the most backward, dishonest and disreputable candidates? I’d go on and list them.. but of course we all know precisely whom they were/ are. Really, there’s something very wrong going on here.

  27. I wish you had asked about the forum where he said he didn’t think Jan 6 was a insurrection.

  28. I would argue with every “solution” to our common problems Edwards wants and would argue even more with his total lack of real understanding of those problems, but it would just turn into a rant.

    I do want to say though that this is exactly why I opposed the movement to primary Cawthorn by voting for Edwards. Cawthorn was an awful mess as a House rep, but he also did absolutely nothing legislatively except vote the party line – when he showed up. Edwards is even more extreme AND he has a record of being effective legislatively. The people pushing votes for Edwards should have pushed for Nevarez instead. We knew the GOP nominee would win NC11, so why not try for the least unreasonable GOP nominee? (And I remember Boyle was one pushing voting for Edwards. That’s when I started pulling out my hair. Luckily I have a lot of hair, so could spare some.)

  29. I live in Mills River and from all I’ve read about Chuck Edwards there is no way he can even begin to represent me and my hopes for the future of my and his part of the state here in the 11th. As a consequence, I’ve adopted my own Congressman from NC 13, Jeff Jackson. He’s using a Substack page to communicate with us which I find refreshing. Some friends and I went to one of the 100 town hall he held in each of our counties to get to know as many of his NC residents as he could before he was elected. He too is working for all of NC but he is nowhere near as stiff necked as Mr Edwards seems to be from this article. So I’ll be supporting Mr Jackson and leaving Mr Edwards to deal with the mess of the Majority Speakership.

    1. I started following Jeff Jackson not long after I moved here. At that time Chuck Edwards was my state senator. I still live in the same place but Asheville was gerrymanded to dilute the blue. I kept meaning to unsubscribe when Julie Mayfield (I think she is great) became my state senator but never did. Then Jeff announced he was running for U.S. Senate and I was so excited.
      I’ll follow Chuck Edwards again but I’m not unsubscribing from Jeff.

  30. “Everything I Know About Politics I Learned at McDonald’s.”

    Deep thinker. I’m sure Franklin or Jefferson would have felt saturated fat and secret sauce are helpful concepts in understanding the constitution. How can a person’s superficial nature run so deep.

  31. While I admire a person from a poor and broken family, and empathize with any one who loses his only son from a “self inflicted gun shot wound,“ I cannot support Mr, Edwards because of his reckless secretive way he maneuvered to bring Raytheon into our otherwise peaceful and justice-loving community. I was wondering today that maybe Jack Cecil was pressured to let Raytheon land on land his ancestor considered sacred, like Mr. Edwards considers our border sacred. But then I remembered that Mr. Cecil gave them a darn 100 acres. It was all these folks who figure they know better than us citizens who need to be exposed. Edwards finagled NCDOT and State Assembly to put in the $35 million exit off of I-26 that will directly benefit Raytheon. And Mr. Cecil got his bridge which he essentially paid for by giving away 100 acres instead of 30 pieces of silver. What I’m saying, folks, is this: Chuck Edwards, Jack Cecil, our Buncombe County Commission, even our Governor, none of them are transparent. They are for themselves, and not the people.

  32. Here’s the full deal with Chuck Edwards… Chuck isn’t a big thinker… to put it kindly. Chuck always does precisely what he’s told to do… and the right-wing of the GOP -lead by the Kevin McCarthy/ Jim Jordan cabal- will get every single vote that Edwards casts without question in his time as our “congressman”. This is guaranteed. Chuck’s job is to keep the burgers flippin, not ask questions… and he’s been well trained for this. And, this is why Edwards is so quietly dangerous… he has absolutely no moral compass, nor has he anywhere close to the needed intellectual/ cognitive abilities to ascertain… no matter how fraught a particular piece of legislation might be to our now increasingly fragile democracy… to vote against any of this …this dangerous legislation aimed at weakening -not broadening and strengthing- our democracy (..that will be unquestionably brought forth in the now GOP controlled 2023 and 2024 congressional sessions). AND btw, here are some of the more notorious folks outside of Congress who are counting on Edwards for his each and every vote.. Tucker Carlson, TheRump, and of course… Tucker Carlson and TheRump’s “good friend” …Vlad the killer Putin. That should -and without doubt, will- make his fervent MAGA constituents here in WNC’s 11th congressional district sleep well at night. We’re in big big trouble here.

  33. no matter whether you agree or disagree with mr. edwards political beliefs, i think he will at least run his office and especially his communications team more professionally than his predecessor did. his choices for staff are so far encouraging. he will be a serious congressman, and not an embarrassment to the district.

  34. Here we are near the second anniversary of the January 6th domestic terrorist attacks on our U.S. Capitol. It’s plain and simple. If someone supports domestic terrorism and those who incite such violent unpatriotic anti-American acts, then they too should be viewed as domestic terrorists, if not run out of our country or at least our state (if we truly want to make it great). Watch this guy closely.

  35. Mr. Edwards’ thinking leaves me shaking my head. If he plans to be a representative for all of WNC, why didn’t he attend candidate forums where he could listen to and address issues of concern to voters who might not see eye to eye with him but might challenge him to think more deeply about issues? Why not debate his opponents?
    There’s many of us who feel like we have no representation at the federal level.

  36. Continuing to support Trump, given everything we know about him, is all any truly patriotic voter needs to know about Edwards. What does it say about anyone who can still look at Trump and say, “Yep, that’s my guy?”

  37. The article did include a lot of info about Edwards which I didn’t know. So, thank you for that. But I do wish he had been asked what he thought about the Jan 6th insurrection and Trump’s involvement before it and lack of action during it. I also want to know how Edwards would have voted on the Respect for Marriage Act if he had been in office to do so. From what he said in the article I expect he would have voted against it, believing same sex marriage and interracial marriage are both supposed to be left up to the individual states. And that makes me hope someday we get a rep who is not so backwards in their thinking. Sometimes states shouldn’t be left to their own devices, especially when it comes to our inalienable rights.

  38. yeah right, Edwards… at least [he] will be a “serious congressman”. What??? …as in seriously bent on the further weakening our democratic institutions and laws, with his absolutely necessary (..in Edward’s case) smartened up staff. The embarrassment is the 11th congressional district of WNC …as per all the stellar so-called congressman we’ve managed to send up to the US Congress in the past decade. But hey, it’s all about appearances, right? sigh.

  39. For Mr. Edwards, just a reminder that he’s not a Member of Congress yet.

    That means lots of things are in limbo. Tom Fiedler wrote about one particular item that’s not on the minds of the vast majority of residents in the district, but I pay attention because 50 years ago I was a candidate for admission to the US Naval Academy from South Carolina. How many candidates here in these mountains are waiting to hear if they have been nominated? Did Mr. Cawthorn ever submit nominations to the service academy admissions offices? Was there any turnover of that process to Mr. Edwards? Are these bright young students, eager to serve our country in uniform, still in limbo?

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  40. Another uneducated ahole from WNC who doesn’t care about his constituents. He only wants to “own the libs.” Three representatives in a row from NC-11 who rank in the bottom 5% of Congress in terms of education.

    Three in a row that aren’t Veterans, don’t hold degrees and, in two cases, think flipping burgers equates to business knowledge.

  41. While I’m excited that Cawthorn is gone, I don’t expect Edwards to be much better. I have little patience for these “blow it all up” MAGA types who think “states rights” is some wonderful nirvana. These misguided fools need a history lesson. The United States was a complete mess when states were running their own individual fiefdoms. The government is far from perfect but the current system is much better that a return to medieval times with a bunch of Trumper royals looking down their noses at the commoners. Edwards is definitely a flawed “trickle down” Reagonomics type, I don’t expect him to do anything to impact income inequality. Expect a hard-core, pro-corporate voting record from Edwards. I also expect Edwards will blindly follow the other MAGA nuts when they force America into default this coming September. Scary stuff ahead. You would think these dopes would understand that stability and a strong middle class is good for the country. Stay Strong WNC and America!

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