Political campaigns are emotional times, but two candidates for North Carolina’s state legislature apparently took that emotion too far Saturday when they got into a fight at a local festival.
A witness told the Bladen Journal that Democratic candidate Tim Benton was trying to confront Republican Brenden Jones at the annual Beast Fest in Bladenboro.
Woody Hester told the paper that Benton was accusing Jones of being behind fliers linking him to a white supremacist group.
“Mr. Benton kept nudging him with his shoulder the whole time they were walking across, and then he just stepped back and little and coldcocked him,” Hester said.
“To beat all, he (Benton) left a little child in a stroller to walk across the street, and if Mr. Jones’ (companion) hadn’t caught her, the child would have rolled into the street,” Hester added.
The North Carolina Republican Party said late Saturday that Jones had filed criminal assault charges against Benton and called on the Democratic Party to remove Benton from the race.
“We are just thankful that Brenden Jones, his wife, and nine year old daughter, who were all with him at the time did not suffer serious injuries,” North Carolina GOP spokeswoman Kami Mueller said.
Jones posted the North Carolina Republican Party’s statement about the incident on his Facebook page, saying that he “did my best to defuse the situation.”
According to a 1994 Fayetteville Observer article, Benton was accused of being involved in the distribution of Ku Klux Klan applications at a local school. Benton, then a middle school gym teacher and athletic director, said at the time that he was being targeted for supporting a local textile worker who was fired for refusing to remove a Confederate flag from his tool box.
Neither Benton or the North Carolina Democratic party had any immediate comment on the incident.