Not From Around Here, Are Ya?


Downtown Raleigh from Western Boulevard Overpass
Photo credit: Mark Turner, Wikimedia Commons

When Heath Shuler was Asheville’s congressman, I used to joke that I’d been living within 100 miles of Asheville longer than our congressman had been alive. Yet he was a native son and I remain “not from around here.”

Rob Christensen observes how the rapid influx of newcomers to North Carolina is a reflection of what North Carolina is doing right, contrary to the “broken” narrative that Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP-led legislature repeat ad nauseam to denigrate the last 100 years of Democratic dominance in Raleigh.

A net 2 million people have immigrated to the state since 1990. Where once North Carolina had one of the largest native-born populations in the country, now 42 percent of the state’s residents were born elsewhere, including many of the state’s current crop of GOP political leaders. Christensen lists a few:

• Gov. Pat McCrory is a Ohio native, although reared partially in North Carolina.

• State House Speaker Thom Tillis is a Florida native.

• State Senate leader Phil Berger is a native of New York, although reared in Virginia.

• U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is a Virginia native.

• U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, although a North Carolina native, was reared in Florida.

• U.S. Rep. David Price was born in Tennessee, and U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in Michigan.

• Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is a native of Washington, D.C., raised in Virginia.

The influx has caused a great shift in NC politics and is one reason the GOP is targeting punitive policies at the cities where non-GOP-voting Ausländers tend to congregate. WNC officials, for example, have spent decades promoting the region as a tourist destination. In-flight magazines featured multi-page color spreads promoting Asheville and WNC as a place to vacation and to build summer homes. And when you retire, local builders are eager to build that retirement home for you, the ads promised.

WNC succeeded beyond its wildest dreams. Asheville is on list after ten-best list. The irony is that locals are feeling the political and cultural shock from the influx of the very people they invited to settle here. We wanted their business, sure, but we didn’t want them, you know, in our business.

Be careful what you wish for.

Comments are closed.