Democratic candidate takes aim again at Hayes after losing by 329 votes in 2006
BY JASON BECK
Two years ago, Larry Kissell was narrowly defeated by Congressman Robin Hayes, coming only 329 votes short on election day. This year, Kissell is hoping grassroots campaigning and handshakes will send him to Washington.
Last week Kissell brought his campaign to Raeford, knocking on doors and meeting the citizens he hopes will cast ballots in his favor. In 2006 Kissell won heavily in democratic Hoke County.
"One of the things we were very successful about in 2006 we are still doing in 2008 is going home to home and knocking on doors," Kissell said during his visit to Raeford last week. "If you really want to know what's going on you meet with people."
Kissell has visited nearly every county in the eighth district and knocked on many doors. Each night he visits 40 to 50 people and asks them to vote for him. He also asks about issues they are facing.
"Gas prices that's what's killing people," Kissell said. "And jobs unemployment went up again in North Carolina.
"Our people are hurting," he said. "They don't cry, they don't mind, but that's what's on their minds."
According to Kissell, nearly 50,000 people draw unemployment in the 8th district, which stretches from here to Congressman Hayes' home in Concord.
Kissell said many he talked to across the area worry about keeping their jobs and being able to afford increasing gas prices. Kissell said the best way to lower oil prices is competition. He says oil companies do not use current leased land to drill but want more.
"I'm for drilling. We have got 68 million acres of leased land and 33 million leased is offshore," he said. "Drill here drill now keep the product in the United States. We are Americans, we solve our problems, we don't pass them on to the next generation," he said. "We have got to create competition."
Kissell also advocates finding alternative forms of energy. Hayes is currently sponsoring a bill in the House that combines drilling and alternative energy known as 'all of the above.' Kissell is critical that an energy plan wasn't adopted years ago, before gas prices reached record highs.
Recent polls place Hayes, who has been in office since 1999, five points ahead of Kissell, making this year's race as tight as the last.
Hayes has also visited the county numerous times over the past few months, giving several speeches on his energy and economic policies.
Both candidates have used negative campaigning and taken jabs at each other in the media.
Kissell is a social studies teacher at East Montgomery High School in Biscoe and is a former textile worker. Though he is from the other side of the district, Kissell has plenty of ties to Hoke County.
"Raz Autry was my high school principal," he said. "I've been coming to Hoke County for many years. I'm very comfortable down here I've met a lot of good people."
Kissell said his idea is to try to unify the district. Hoke County faces different issues than those in the suburban areas surrounding Charlotte.
"We are going to put a constituency service office at this end of the district," he said. "So that we can serve the people."
Kissell said if elected, he would be able to accomplish more than Hayes, who faces an uphill battle in congress each day as a member of the minority Republican Party.
"Even as a freshman congressman, to be in the majority party will have a lot more influence on what can get done and we are going to maximize what can get done in this region," he said.