Republican challenger Richard Hudson was all smiles last night in Concord. He could finally claim victory as the 8th congressional district's new congressman -- replacing Democrat Larry Kissell -- who was seeking his third term.
Even with early-voting results showing a big lead for Richard Hudson, the packed crowd at the Hilton Garden Inn ballroom waited more than two hours before Hudson claimed victory.
"Wow, look at this crowd," Hudson says. "Thank you so much. I'm just so honored by the tremendous support we've gotten from the district. What a great night, huh?"
He spent the first few minutes of his speech thanking God and shared the story of Nehemiah, a man from the Old Testament who helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
"There are people out there who are suffering, just like the people in Judah were suffering in Nehemiah's time," Hudson says. "And so it's important that we, our leaders in this country, pray and seek guidance in our lord. And that's what I pledge I'm going to do. I'm going to bring God into my decision-making."
Hudson says he will work with Democrats and President Barack Obama to pass key legislation. He says he wants to rebuild many things, but his first order of business is to tear something down: the president's Affordable Care Act.
"You can count on me to fight for a smaller, more limited government. To fight to create a robust economy to get the government out of our job creators," Hudson says. "And you can trust me to work on a foreign policy where our allies can trust us and our enemies fear us because that's not what we have right now."
But first, he's going to enjoy the evening.
"Tonight, we're going to celebrate," Hudson says. "And then tomorrow morning, I'm going to roll up my sleeves and I'm going to go to work. Thank you so much."
Reporter Michael Tomsic was also in Concord, at Larry Kissell's office.
Kissell’s supporters tried to be upbeat as the congressman walked into his campaign headquarters in a Concord shopping mall last night.
But by the time he got there, the race was over.
"Obviously things have not gone today the way we had hoped they would," Kissell says. "I've said all along that the greatest thing about this job is giving thanks and congratulating people. I've called Congressman-elect Richard Hudson up and congratulated him on his good day."
You can trace the causes of Hudson’s good day back to Republicans in the state legislature. As the party in charge, they got to redraw the state's voting districts after the 2010 census.
Kissell, in fact, was one of the more conservative House Democrats. He voted against the passage of President Obama’s health care law. The NRA endorsed him. He did not endorse the president. And he didn’t even go to the Democratic National Convention in his home state.
"It was always about the district," Kissell says. "What we said we would do, we did. We went up talking about American jobs, American manufacturing, and that’s what we talked about all the time, that’s what we did. We never lost our focus on what we went up there for."
Kissell held the office since 2009.