Larry Kissell was one of a small handfull of Democrats running to get rid of Robin Hayes in the 8th Congressional District. Following last week's withdrawal by Tim Dunn, Larry is now the undisputed frontrunner and is looking beyond the primary to November 7. Aside from the fact that he isn't a professional politician—he's a former textile worker and Social Studies teacher—Larry has several things going his way. It's a "blue moon" off-year election and voters are looking for a change. Not having to worry about the primary, Larry has seven months to take on Robin Hayes. But perhaps the most helpful thing is the record of disappointments Robin Hayes has compiled during his tenure in the 8th.
I'll get to the interview after making one last point: the national Democrats have had their eyes on Tim Dunn, and they're looking now to see whether this seat is winnable. Their decision on how to support Larry will depend in part on fundraising numbers reported on March 31. It's March 27. Here's a link to Larry's website, where you can make a quick online contribution. Now, without further ado:
BlueNC: What's a nice guy like you doing in politics?
LK: I was sitting in church one Sunday and I got a calling to this race. I knew I had to take action. I believe most folks who serve their country are good, hard working people. The problem is that some of those people get up to Washington, forget who sent them there and loose touch with their real purpose, which is to serve the people, not special interests.
BlueNC: What are you hearing from voters about the need for a change in Washington?
LK: Folks are fed up with the mounting debt, the waste, and the focus on the wrong priorities.
BlueNC: What will you want to accomplish in your first term in Congress?
LK: I want to work to get our spending under control, stop unfair trade deals, and bring some of our tax dollars back to the 8th district to put it to work for our people here at home.
BlueNC: The withdrawal of Democrat Tim Dunn creates some big opportunities for your campaign. What are your immediate plans?
LK: I was so honored to get Tim's endorsement. We were already gaining momentum before his departure from the race, and now with both campaigns working together we are moving full force ahead toward the real target--Robin Hayes. My immediate plans are to continue what I've been doing non stop since February-- I'm raising money so that we have the resources needed to defeat Hayes in November.
BlueNC: What are the top three issues on which Robin Hayes is vulnerable?
LK: Broken promises, broken promises, broken promises.
BlueNC: I'm sure you've spent some time looking back to earlier Hayes campaigns. What has that research taught you to expect over the coming months?
LK: He and the national Republican party will spend hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars running a negative campaign, trying to smear my name to deflect from his broken promises to the people of this district. Mr. Hayes can run from his record, but he can't hide.
BlueNC: You and your campaign staff have been active in the local blogosphere; what role will the blogs (and more generally, the internet) play in the Eighth Congressional District race?
LK: I believe that the blogosphere gives us a great opportunity not only to get out our message, but more importantly to hear from voters and get their concerns and feedback in real time. We enjoy the interaction, welcome the input and try to respond to everyone that contacts the campaign.
BlueNC: Finally, what's the deal with the goat?
LK: CAFTA the goat has gotten more press than I have! The goat was my first campaign contribution. It was given to me a by a laid-off textile worker.
We named the goat CAFTA because like a goat, you can clean it up, call it something else, but in the end, a bad trade deal is a bad trade deal, just like an old goat is always an old goat--no matter how you try to sell it. And just like CAFTA the goat was retired from my campaign to greener pastures last November, I'm hopeful that CAFTA the broken promise will retire Robin Hayes this November.
It's not uncommon for people to wait until after a primary to start making political donations. In this case, the primary is moot; the race between Larry and Hayes is on now, and your contribution by March 31 is crucial to getting this thing started right.