Monday, February 25, 2008

Coast suddenly clears for Kissell

After coming within 329 votes of winning in 2006, Democrat Larry Kissell became the favorite of a lot of Democrats in Washington and in the 8th District. Now he's getting help from some would-be challengers and his party's establishment.

Just Sunday, Charlotte lawyer Chris Kouri called Kissell and told him he won't run against him this year. Kouri ran against Hayes as the Democratic nominee in 2002. "I don't think it's any secret that I've looked at running in the 8th District," says Kouri, adding that he's now fully behind Kissell. He wouldn't elaborate on why he changed his mind.

Another Democrat who planned to run this year is John Autry, a liberal activist who lost to Kissell in 2006. After campaigning for much of the past year, he says he's sitting this race out for health reasons.

Meanwhile, party leaders are coming to Kissell's support at a March 19 fundraiser. Every Democratic member of Congress from the Carolinas -- including Reps. Mel Watt, John Spratt, Jim Clyburn and Heath Shuler -- have signed on as co-sponsors of the event at the home of Charlotte investor Mark Erwin.

And Democratic strategist James Carville headlines a Kissell fundraiser in the Triangle on March 29.

"Everyone has been so supportive of Larry," spokesman Steve Hudson said. "They're just determined not to let this race slip the national party’s fingers again."

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