BLADENBORO, N.C. (WECT) – Police officers responded to an alleged altercation between two North Carolina House of Representative candidates on Saturday, according to Bladenboro Police Chief Chris Hunt.
Now, one of the candidates has filed assault charges against the other.
The incident took place at the Bladenboro Beast Fest.
Chief Hunt said Democratic District 46 candidate Tim Benton and Republican District 46 candidate Brenden Jones each told officers the other man “struck” him.
Officers did not witness the reported altercation and therefore did not charge either candidate, according to Chief Hunt. He also said officers did not see any injuries. A visitor at the Beast Fest told police about the reported altercation, no one called 911.
Chief Hunt said officers referred each candidate to the magistrate’s office which is protocol in that situation.
Jones filed charges against Benton. He said Benton has been issued a criminal summons and will have to appear in court on assault related charges. According to court documents, the two are due in court Nov. 14.
The NCGOP released a statement claiming “a mail piece went out recently stating the similarities between Tim Benton and Hillary Clinton, which caused Benton so much strife that he verbally and physically assaulted Jones in public.”
The NCGOP claimed:
Yesterday afternoon Tim Benton spotted Brenden Jones at the local Beast Fest in Bladenboro, NC. He approached Jones very aggressively in front of families, while pushing his own grandson in a stroller. Jones tried to calm him down and asked if they could go across the street to get away from the growing crowd. Benton was spewing profanity, screaming in Jones’ face saying, “I’m going to kick your a** by the end of the day,” and repeatedly nudging his shoulder. The two men went to the other side of the road, meanwhile Benton left his grandson in his stroller on the edge of the street causing Mrs. Jones to divert her attention away from her husband to care for the child. Then Benton proceeded to sucker punch his opponent, Brenden Jones.”
Brenden Jones also claimed:
Mr. Benton was completely overwhelmed with misplaced anger because he was being compared to Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate for his very own party. His inexperience in the political workings of a campaign caused him to assault Brenden and draw even more attention to his own problems. We have ran a clean and respectful campaign concerning the issues that matter most, and Mr. Benton’s actions yesterday are completely unacceptable and uncalled for.”
Tom Howell, the Libertarian candidate for District 46, also commented on the altercation. He stated:
I was surprised and saddened to hear that my Republican and Democratic opponents were engaged in a physical altercation. Although I also attended the Beastfest in Bladenboro, I was not a witness to the encounter. Assuming the altercation transpired in the manner that Mr. Jones stated, I would think that there are better ways for public servants to address their grievances.
WECT reached out to the North Carolina Democratic Party for comment, but has not heard back yet. There has been no word on if Benton plans to file charges as well.
Representative Ken Waddell (D) currently holds the District 46 seat. The seat covers Columbus and parts of Bladen and Robeson counties.