Kissell won't have SEIU-backed challenger
The re-election campaign of 8th District Congressman Larry Kissell likely received a boost Friday. A union-recruited candidate decided against entering the race. A new political party called North Carolina Families First drafted Concord resident Wendell Fant to run in the general election even though he never committed to being a candidate. Fant says he has to put his family first, and that means not running for Congress. Greg Rideout is a spokesman for North Carolina Families First. He says the group is disappointed, but understands. Still, he says the group's efforts to challenge Kissell were not in vain. "Our main concern is that Democrats act like the progressives that we're supposed to be and not act like corporate lackies, and that's what was happening in that district," Rideout says. "We're hoping now that we will be standing over his shoulders that he'll remember who elected him to Congress." The Service Employees International Union and the state employees association formed the party in response to Kissell voting against the health care bill. The group easily collected the required 17,000 signatures to put a candidate on the general election ballot. Now, Kissell's opponents are Republican nominee Harold Johnson and Libertarian Thomas Hill. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling says Fant's decision is bad news for Johnson. He says Fant would have siphoned more votes away from Kissell. "I'd imagine it's worth three or four points for Kissell in the fall," he says Jensen says his firm's polling shows most undecided Democrats are upset with him over his health care vote. With Fant no longer an option, Jensen says he expects most of those Democrats to essentially hold their noses and vote for Kissell.