As the district that Larry Kissell represents has moved to the right so has the two-term Democratic congressman. Kissell bucked his party on two high-profile votes and says he plans to do so again next week.
Today, a group of black Kissell supporters, says it plans to do a little shifting of its own. The 8th Congressional Black Leadership Caucus will hold a press conference at 6:30 p.m. in Hamlet to express its displeasure with the incumbent.
Walter Rogers, who heads the Caucus, said the group is dismayed by Kissell’s assertion that he does not plan to endorse President Barack Obama for re-election. The caucus has about 250 members.
“We are hurt and disappointed at Mr Kissell’s comments” said Rogers, who lives in Laurinburg. “There will certainly be a press conference to discuss this because we think he has thrown everyone that cares about him under the bus.”
Last week, Kissell was also one of 17 Democrats who voted with Republicans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress. Next week, he said he plans to vote with Republicans again to repeal Obama’s health care law.
“I’ve heard from hundreds and hundreds of people from my district about their opposition to the health care law,” Kissell told the Charlotte Observer this week. “I voted against it originally and I will vote to repeal it.”
Supporters were upset when Kissell joined 39 House Democrats to vote against the health care bill in 2009. He also voted against a Democratic cap-and-trade bill designed to reduce global warming.
But Rogers said he and other Kissell backers stuck him with during the 2010 election. He said his group will not do the same this election year.
“In the last election, I held my nose and voted for him,” Rogers said. “At that time I said that if he did some of the same things he would bring the pictures off the wall. Now he had gone from bad to worse.”
The caucus is not alone. Ralph Bostic, former Democratic chairman in Kissell’s home, Montgomery County, said Kissell’s recent votes “do not sit well with me at all.”
“I will never support him again,” Bostic told the Charlotte Observer “… He needs to change his party …. That’s the way he votes.”
Still some say Kissell is doing what he needs to do in a conservative district, which runs from Mecklenburg County to Robeson County. Last year’s redistricting added heavily Republican areas of Rowan, Davidson and Randolph counties while removing thousands of Democratic voters in Charlotte and Fayetteville.
For example, the National Rifle Association put lawmakers on notice that the vote on Holder would factor into the scorecard that determines its endorsements, and financial help. But Kissell, who has gotten $11,900 from the NRA’s political action committee, said the group did not influence his decision.
Kissell said the contempt vote was more about principles than about Party politics.
“I hated that it came to that,” he told reporters. “We did not have answers …. We have a dead border guard. We have a program that didn’t work. We have guns that are still missing. And we need answers.”
On health care, Kissell explained why he plans to vote for repeal on July 11.
“Constitutional or not, the health care bill cut Medicare and placed undue burdens on our small businesses,” he said.
A July 17 runnoff will decide which Republican challenger — Scott Keadle and Richard Hudson — Kissell will face in November.
The McClatchy Tribune contributed to this report.