Hayes falls to Kissell

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

By Hugh Fisher
CONCORD ó Five-term U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes failed to overcome his Democratic challenger Tuesday, losing his seat in an election that saw upsets in Congressional races nationwide.
With nine of 10 counties in the district reporting, Kissell held 155,074 votes, 55.4 percent, to Hayes’ 124,939 votes, 44.6 percent.
Speaking via phone from his home in Biscoe, in Montgomery County, Kissell said he was ready to get to work.”I feel very excited for the people who made it possible, the people who listened to the ex-textile worker and schoolteacher and listened to his message, went out and worked and made this possible,” Kissell said.
“I’m thinking of getting all the pieces in place to go to Washington and be a strong advocate for the people of this district, especially the working people,” he said.
The rematch between Hayes and Kissell, who came within 330 votes of defeating the Concord native in 2006, drew national attention.
Calls to Hayes’ staff after the election was decided were not returned.
But earlier in the evening, at his election night party at the Speedway Club, Hayes mentioned the Democrats’ money advantage in Congressional races “all across the board” to a supporter.
Hayes, of Concord, won his home county of Cabarrus handily, taking 58 percent of the vote there with all precincts reporting.
But as early numbers flashed over TV sets at the Speedway Club, showing Kissell in the lead, Hayes said those early votes were much as he had expected: a large Democratic turnout among those who voted early.
“It’s going to be close,” Hayes said just before 9 p.m.
As the night went on, he continued to greet some 300 guests, and the mood remained positive for a time.Hayes later said that a “significant African-American turnout,” coupled with a large number of straight-ticket Democratic voters, had worked against him.
By 10 p.m., the tide had turned.
Kissell, a former textile worker and schoolteacher, said Hayes had called earlier to congratulate him on his victory.
“He was very gracious in offering his congratulations and offering to make this transition smooth so the people will be as well served during the transition as is possible,” Kissell said.
“I appreciate that offer tremendously.”
Kissell didn’t want to speculate on the impact that negative advertising had on the vote.
“Whatever it did or didn’t do, come the morning we don’t have D’s and R’s anymore,” he said. “We just have people of the 8th district that we’re gong to be working very hard to help.”