BLADENBORO, N.C. – N.C. House candidate Brenden Jones, a Republican, filed assault charges with the Bladen county magistrate’s office against his challenger, Democrat Tim Benton, after an altercation Saturday at the annual Beast Fest in Bladenboro. According to Jones and witnesses who spoke to the Bladen Journal, Benton approached Jones at the festival and, after exchanging words, punched him. “This is not our first time with him, but last time I was able to defuse the situation. Every time we come over to his town he’s a pretty angry guy,” said Jones in a phone interview. “He was using a lot of profanity and I said ‘not in front of my daughter’ so we moved to the side and I said ‘this is not proper for folks running for House and I am not going to street fight.’ When I turned my head he sucker-punched me.”A witness account reported in the Bladen Journal corroborates Jones account of the incident. Benton allegedly confronted Jones during the community festival about some flyers circulating about him. Jones said he was not responsible for the flyers and suggested they move the conversation out of the crowd of families.”It was aligning him with his party; It showed Obama, Hilary, Cooper and him saying ‘birds of a feather flock together’,” said Jones. “I think his skin is a little too thin for politics…. He can’t handle the stress of of being a House representative if he can’t handle the stress of running a campaign.” The Bladenboro police department was called to the scene. Police Chief Chris Hunt told reporters that each candidate said the other struck him. Police referred them to the magistrate’s office to file charges if they wished. ‘We are just happy that Brenden Jones, his wife and nine-year-old daughter who were all with him at the time did not suffer serious injuries. The N.C. Democratic Party should join us in seeking Tim Benton’s removal as a candidate immediately,” said Kami Mueller, spokeswoman of the N.C. Republican Party.The incident comes just over one week before the election that would seat one of the candidates in the N.C. House representing District 46, which covers parts of Columbus, Bladen and Robeson counties. The seat is currently held by Democrat Ken Waddell. Tensions over this race and ones across the state have reached peak levels and led to violence recently. Two weeks ago, headquarters of the N.C.GOP in Orange County, N.C. were firebombed. Benton is a retired educator and was elected to the Bladen County Public Schools Board of Education in 2014. Jones is a small business owner and lives in Columbus County. The case is scheduled to be heard in a Bladen County courtroom on November 14.
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