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North Carolina Races

House Outlook for 2008

Will the GOP Swing the Pendulum Back?

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North Carolina (08)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


September 29, 2008 Update:

When the dust settled after the midterm elections of 2006, Democrats realized they had missed a golden opportunity. Democrat Larry Kissell, an all-but-unknown teacher had come within 329 votes of upsetting Republican incumbent Robin Hayes in a very Republican district without any help from national Democrats. Desperate not to miss out two elections in a row, the DCCC announced early support of Kissell’s repeat bid.

Now it likes like Kissell will certainly need that help. As of July 1, he was only halfway to his fundraising goal of $1.2 million, despite having run a nearly continuous campaign since his 2006 loss. Worse yet was his free-spending ways, which reduced his cash-on-hand to less than $250,000 at the end of primary season, despite having had no primary opponent. The DCCC isn’t giving up hope yet, pledging over $1 million in TV ads to bolster Kissell’s chances. Unfortunately, Democrats may have missed their chance. In North Carolina’s 8th, Dems just might be a day late and a dollar short.

May 27, 2008 Update:

In 2006, this race was decided by a mere 329 votes. In 2008, voters will get a chance to re-write the ending if they choose, with Republican Rep. Robin Hayes squaring off against Democratic challenger Larry Kissell for the second election in a row. While the DCCC has offered Kissell more help this time around, Hayes vows not to be caught napping again. Case in point: Hayes has almost $1 million in the bank already, while Kissell has just $130,000.

Money won’t entirely define the race, however, as Kissell made his mark in 2006 with innovative stunts, such as selling gas for $1.22 a gallon, the same price as the day Hayes first took office. Although national Dems pledge to pay more attention this time around, they may have lost their chance to catch Hayes by surprise.


Background

Has the DCCC learned anything since 2006? After their chosen candidate dropped out of the 2006 primary, the national Democrats refused to financially support social studies teacher Larry Kissell’s longshot bid against Representative Robin Hayes. Kissell went on to lose by 329 votes, and now he is one of the DCCC’s top recruits for the rematch in 2008.

This time around, Kissell has plenty of establishment support. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already hosted a Washington fundraiser to retire the candidate’s $35,000 personal loan, and the DCCC rapidly cleared the primary to ensure Kissell’s nomination. Whether Kissell can beat Hayes in a presidential year is another matter altogether, as neither side appears inclined to take the race lightly this time around.

Candidates

Larry Kissell – Democrat – 2006 Democratic nominee, high school teacher
Website

Robin Hayes (I) – Republican – current Congressman
Website