Challengers set sights on Kissell

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Lee Barnes
A candidate for Larry Kissell’s seat in congress has denounced Kissell’s failure to take a stand early regarding health care reform.
Republican Lou Huddleston said in a statement released Monday that Kissell “remained silent for weeks” until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had enough votes to pass the plan, “freeing Kissell to vote against it.”
Huddleston’s claim has some merit. In the weeks leading up to the vote, Kissell, a Democrat whose 8th District includes Cabarrus County, had been noncommittal on what kind of reform he’d support. At an invitation-only Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting in August, Kissell said Americans “do need reforms” but focused on expanding home health care and concerns about Medicaid cuts.
He voted against the plan on Saturday.
Kissell is in his first term representing the district, which stretches 120 miles from Charlotte to Fayetteville and includes parts of 10 counties, including all of Cabarrus. He won the seat in the 2008 elections, defeating Robin Hayes, a Republican who had served five terms.
Huddleston announced his candidacy this summer. The Morgan State University graduate served 31 years in the U.S. Army, retiring in 2003 as a full colonel. He lives in Fayetteville.
He ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat last year. Latest reports from the Federal Election Commission show that Huddleston has raised $102,765 so far in his campaign. Of that amount, $57,640 has come from individual donations.
Huddleston is by no means the only candidate who considers the first-term congressman vulnerable:
– Mecklenburg resident Hal Jordan, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully against now-disgraced state House Speaker Jim Black in 2006. He also lost a bid as an “at large” candidate for Mecklenburg County Commissioner.
Jordan is a University of Maryland graduate and works for IBM. He announced his candidacy only last month and has no financial filings with the election commission.
– Tim D’Annunzio of Raeford is running as a first-time candidate. The former Golden Knights parachute team member has had a variety of businesses since leaving the military. He built and operates a freefall simulator wind tunnel and owns several other companies. So far, he has raised $312,02, most of it from himself.
– Republican Darrell Day of Hamlet is the president of the East Coast Umbrella Factory in Laurel Hill. The first-time candidate has reported raising $3,030, all but $30 of it being his own money.
Kissell’s most recent election filing shows he has raised $406,661, with about three-fourths of the money coming from Political Action Committees.