Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kissell, Watt and Davis Give us Reason to Hope

Last night I attended a gathering for Larry Kissell at Veteran's Park in Charlotte. Congressman Mel Watt, NC-12 and Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama spoke to rally the group of Kissell supporters, neighborhood leaders,local elected Democrats and party officials. I figure there's nothing new either of them can tell me about Larry. I've read everything there is to read about him. Hell, I've written a lot of it.

So, for me, it wasn't what they said about Larry. It was the warmth with which they embraced Larry in his bid to represent North Carolina's 8th.

A group of elected officials, candidates and their supporters were chatting out front amid Kissell campaign signs and balloons. Congressman Watt and Congressman Davis blended in with the group. There was no huffing and puffing and looking important like so many tend to do. I don't know, but maybe we get so used to the arrogance of politicians like Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Charles Taylor and Robin Hayes that we forget how approachable our other government leaders are.

Once inside Mel Watt warmed up the crowd with some history of the district and explained how it was drawn for a Democrat. (Apparently, they forgot to tell the voters.) He also introduced Artur Davis and described how Davis has been instrumental in getting the DCCC to pay some attention to this race.

Congressman Davis was a pleasure to listen to. His delivery has a cadence that reminds me of a minister delivering a sermon. Before singing the praises of Larry Kissell, though, Davis reminded us that it was our very own Mel Watt who introduced the only comprehensive Hurricane Katrina bill. Sadly, the Republican majority has done absolutely nothing to act on it.

The folks in attendance were Kissell supporters, so Davis didn't have to convince us to support Larry, but he did give us a reason to keep working hard toward November and he accomplished this by telling us at least one thing we hadn't heard before. According to Davis, the DCCC made a mistake in supporting Tim Dunn early. Jim Morrill from The Charlotte Observer has the money quote.

Davis also highlighted two votes in the House that hinged on one vote. He held up his voting card and he reminded us just how important Larry's vote would have been for all of the close votes orchestrated by DeLay, Hastert and now Boehner. There was one we didn't need reminded of. CAFTA.

I think most of us were feeling pretty good about what we were hearing. Then Artur Davis had to bring up that poll. The most recent poll. The one where, as Davis pointed out, without one penny spent on television or radio advertising Larry Kissell was trailing a popular incumbent by only 4 points. Robin Hayes has name recognition well over 85% and he isn't polling above 50%. That's unheard of in this district, at this time in the campaign for Robin Hayes. Unheard of until this past week. That certainly gives us hope.

Larry Kissell was met with a standing ovation. He didn't disappoint. I've heard him speak several times now and he just keeps getting better. Larry will never be one of those polished plastic pols who spits out that same tired string of words from stump to stump. He speaks from the heart and it shows.

The campaign events will probably start hitting fast and furious and I won't be able to write about all of them. Each event seems to attract an increasing number of elected officials, so I want to take a moment to name as many as I can remember. If I forget any, I'll add them later.

First there were three members of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party executive committee in attendance - Pat Patton, Michael Evans and Polly Little. From Charlotte's City Council we had Patsy Kinsey (Mom), Michael Barnes (My rep) and Nancy Carter. Jennifer Roberts attended from the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. John Autry was there and is running for Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor. Finally, a dear friend, Everette Passaly is running for the NC House District 103 seat. (Go Everette, Go!) I apologize if I have forgotten anyone.

One last thing....Give 'till it hurts!


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