Dear friends in Chapel Hill,
It seems like forever ago that I called so many of you, as I've done too many times, to help with a fundraising event here in Orange County. In this case, I wanted to introduce you to a new candidate in North Carolina's 8th District, Larry Kissell. After talking with Larry several times, I concluded that he was a thoughtful person worthy of your financial support. Not only that, but he had proved to me that he would listen. I had told him that he needed a more professional photograph for his website, and he took action on that immediately.
Nearly a hundred good people responded to my request by writing checks or attending a very successful event at my home. Larry wasn't shy about taking the cash, nor was he reluctant to engage. He wrote scores of posts here, including one entitled Betrayal begins with trust. Truer words were never spoken.
So when I learned today from Fredly that Kissell will be a "no" vote on healthcare reform, I had to do some deep soul-searching. And while my dear friend and blogging partner Betsy is willing to give Larry the benefit of the doubt one more time, I am not.
Thus I find myself in the unenviable position of reaching out to many acquaintances to apologize. I was blinded by my desire to get rid of Robin Hayes, and fell for Kissell's happy talk. I didn't vet him thoroughly enough. I didn't realize that he's not willing to do the hard thinking necessary to see past simplistic answers to complicated challenges.
Please forgive me. I asked you to support a person who today has chosen to side with hatemongers and liars instead of serious people focused on serious solutions. Dan Besse recently analyzed Kissell's position on health care as well as anyone:
I know that Larry is "our guy" but this vote will make him zero for two on the biggest issues of the decade in Congress. First, climate change and energy, and now health care. I am personally familiar with the legislative process, as a local elected official and as a long-time pragmatic advocate deeply involved in state legislative negotiations. There are ALWAYS problems and shortcomings in the details of any complex legislation. You can ALWAYS find a "good reason" to vote no. Larry's explanations here and on climate change were the kind of arguments you make when you know that the right thing is to vote "yes" but you're taking a walk in order to protect yourself politically. Sometimes, legislators in competitive districts need to do that in order to fight another day.
But sometimes you have to stand up in the face of the heat. So far, Larry has not done so on what I count as the biggest ones. I am highly disappointed.
Can he redeem himself? Yes--by voting "yes" when the bills come back for final passage, and by voting "no" on amendments that would strip the public option. But I do not think he is off to a good start here.
In closing, I want to point out that Larry's campaign slogan back in 2004 was "Someone working ... for a change." With all due respect, and it ain't much these days, I'll believe it when I see it.
PS In case you think I'm making all this up, click through to read Larry Kissell's BlueNC Blog for yourself. Take time to read the comments. Take time to wonder how someone could participate in this community the way he did and then fall so short in dealing with the complicated challenges we're facing.
That last post is an especially sharp turn of the knife, one among many.