Sunday, February 11, 2007

Seeking 2008 Victory in Robin's 'Hood

First of all, I’d like to thank the four folks who posted comments within sixteen hours of this blog’s birth.

* * * * *

On to the first topic referenced by these early posters: Who will run for Congress in the 8th District in 2008?

It is a known fact that Larry Kissell has already declared his intentions. Not only has he done so in multiple emails since the final re-count, Larry announced it before 500+ Democrats gathered at the State Executive Committee Meeting at Elon College last month. Party leaders locally and on up to the DNC in D.C. have recognized the same. Larry will run and is running.

In fact, there are reports that Larry’s narrow loss – some of which is blamed on late financial interest by the DCCC and the drenching all-day rain that dampened turnout by enough voters to make a difference – has prompted some to say “give him another chance.” Others have been heard commenting, “Heck, he ran when Hayes seemed invincible and then almost pulled it off; he should be the Party’s standard-bearer again for that reason.”

These are valid reasons.

But, being the Democrats that we are, other loyal Democrats will point to equally valid reasons for someone else to throw her or his hat into the ring.

So who else might run? Will there be anyone else? Should there be anyone else? Will Republican Congressman Robin Hayes run again?

A growing number of us are hearing that State Representative Rick Glazier of Cumberland County and 2002 Democratic nominee Chris Kouri of Mecklenburg County are strongly considering it. Both gentlemen, who are friends of mine like Larry is and perhaps of many of you, are excellent Democrats. They, like Larry and other thinking/breathing Democrats well-versed in the issues and needs of the Eighth, would be hands-down better than the incumbent.

For now, though, the central part of the Eighth is all about Larry running again. He is a known quantity with “recency” and an organization District-wide. Chris and Rick, who hail from opposite ends of the District, also have some base of support in their respective areas.

But if these three are considering a run against Hayes in 2008 because of how close the 4-term incumbent came to losing in 2006, then I’d anticipate other Democrats are considering a bid as well.

And if Robin chooses not to run (more on that below), then all bets are certainly off: We will see a host of Democrats come flowing out of the political spigot as they clamor for that rarity of rarities in Congressional politics - an open seat. We’d probably face a run-off primary due to the balkanization of the vote itself, particularly if the presidential primary remains on the same day here in North Carolina as our other Democratic primaries. (The subject of another discussion another day.)

Is there any likelihood that Robin won’t seek re-election?

Well, speculation is beginning to run rampant about this. In 2005 there was a GOP boomlet in support of Hayes for Governor; the same was duplicated since last November when Libby Dole’s 2008 plans for U.S. Senate came under scrutiny. With no Republican developing any “critical mass” for Governor yet within that party, Hayes has seen his name and potential candidacy re-emerge. And now throw into the mix that Congressman Hayes is in the minority – a backbencher – for the first time in Congress. Not that there may be too much difference where ever he sits since Robin, on information and belief, has no lengthy record of substantive legislation other than an occasional amendment here and there. It is highly doubtful that he could get anything of his own through Congress now except naming a Post Office, a memorial, or neutral resolutions. If a Democrat were in the White House now – instead of 2009 – then I’d say Robin Hayes would not run for re-election in 2008. Right now the only cards he holds are a Republican White House (for the moment), incumbency, and significant personal wealth. (Not a troika to sneeze at but of significantly lesser value than two and certainly four years ago ... and particularly in a District with more registered Democrats than Republicans.)

There has been some speculation that if Robin Hayes did not run and he also did not seek another office, then he might wait until the last minute so he could hand-pick a Republican nominee with name recognition and electoral experience. Some GOP’ers in the western end of the Eighth heard long-time State Senator Fletcher Hartsell’s name crop up under that scenario. Hartsell, like Hayes, hails from Concord. (For those unfamiliar with the North Carolina State Senate, it is noteworthy in this scenario that Hartsell has developed a strong bipartisan following there during two decades.) I have neither seen nor heard any further rumor-mongering about this possibility in at least at least a year.

For now we should and must assume that Robin Hayes will seek re-election.

Regardless, here’s my thesis:

If Rick or Chris or anyone else decides to take the plunge into the 2008 Congressional race by joining Larry, then I ask them all of them to build on the grassroots and “netroots” zeal and excitement we saw in 2006. I ask them to regularly walk the streets in Richmond County and other areas where we have seen manufacturers board up their windows, and talk with the families just barely scraping by. I ask them to look into the crowded courthouse conditions, the devastating cost of Medicaid on our counties’ budgets, and the need for even better schools and better-paying jobs. I ask them to listen to how Eighth District Democrats, Republicans and Unaffiliated voters lament America’s loss of stature and support in the world. I ask them to visit our churches and our synagogues and our community centers to hear the prayers of our senior citizens and our families. Those fervent prayers reflect what this District’s needs are.

That synergy will defeat Robin Hayes – or any other Republican – in 2008.

And take it from me, someone who has been asked about making a Congressional race myself over the last 10 years: Whomever our nominee is, we must win in 2008. Not taking back the Eighth District, in the face of both Democratic gains elsewhere nationally and the depth of our need for a true, working representative of the District, would be a shame. And we’d have no one to blame then but ourselves.

Let’s roll up our sleeves. There’s work to do.


GhostwriterNC said...

Ah, Wayne - you know how to bait a hook. Who won't jump at the chance to share their gossip on-line?

Chris and Rick are both outstanding guys and would be top notch candidates. I was impressed with Larry's hard work, right down to the hand written thank-you notes he sent for each and every contributor or volunteer.

There had been some buzz early in mid-2005 of another candidate you failed to mention - perhaps because you had some inside info? - but another name circulated by the political crowd in Raleigh was none other than the CURRENT state representative of your district, Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin. Folks in Raleigh were particularly impressed with her work in opposition to unfair trade deals and trying to protect workers who would be disadvantaged at best, tossed out of work at the worst, thanks to another round of "free trade" agreements. Many thought she could pose a very serious challenge to the incumbent and wondered if she would run in the future.

But if she decides to consider it, I'm sure you'll let us know?

On the GOP side, if Robin steps aside, Fletcher is a well-liked stand-up guy who has earned the respect of both Democrats and Republicans during his tenure in Raleigh. He has a reputation for hard work and putting fairness over politics and would be a worthy successor. However, there are those within his party who question whether his is "conservative enough" to respresent them.

That must be particularly annoying to him, as Fletcher was loyally representing Republicans in NC back when they could hold a caucus in a phone booth, while a lot of the "conservatives" supporting him were Democrats themselves until the 1990's.

There's also another rumor, though he might be quick to squash it, that Salisbury favorite-son Phil Kirk would be a strong successor, now that he has retired from his NCCBI duties. Kirk may just want to get as far from politics as he can to enjoy his retirement, but if he did have an interest, he'd have to be taken very seriously.

Leanne said...

Glad to see a site focused on the 8th Wayne. Congrats on your appointment as the new 8th District Chair. I know you'll do a great job.

I realize that you have to be impartial if there is a primary, but I hope everyone out there looking at the race and considering a run will sit down with Larry and hear first hand his committment to this race.

Larry has a calling to do this that isn't based in political ambition. He is sacrificing time with his family and being in debt to win this seat back for the people of the 8th district. I know that he is no politician and isn't nearly as politically poised as Rick, Chris, Melanie, or yourself. But his heart is in the right place and he has a message that speaks to the poeple of the 8th District. That is why he did so well in the election against all odds. I believe, and I know I'm partial, that he deserves another shot. No one can say he wasted his first one. He fought hard and he will fight hard again.

I hope that all of the good Dems of the 8th district and NC will take a good hard look at this seat and at Larry and determine that he deserves their support. The folks mentioned all have great resources and supporters and those resources and supporters together with Larry's will build a Democratic victory in 2008 if we can all work together.

Whether it is Fletcher Hartsell, Robin Hayes, or someone we haven't considered, rest assured that the 8th district will be in play in 2008 and highly targeting by both the DCCC and the Repubs.

southernphilosopher said...

"Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice .. we don't get fooled again" -- George Bush, from Farhenheit 9-11.

Chris Kouri ought to have learned from his past experience that the DCCC (which is the gateway to all of the national money except for the blogging money) really hates being wrong. Various people at DCCC has said they were wrong about Larry and would be backing him this time around. They didn't come around after either of their candidate choices were defeated in the past, and let's face it, this race takes a good deal of money. Larry, despite his background, ended up raising more money that Kouri did.

Both Kouri and Rick are lawyers (I guess that's OK -- so is my Dad and some of my closest friends, including you and Melanie) -- but in the day and age of blogs, though, every client, every deal will be examined -- and the regular media can, a la Drudge, pick up on the story. It is a huge liability.

When I was County Chair, whenever someone wanted to run for office, I would set them down and play out, exactly, what the negative attacks against them would look like, and tried to help them assess the chances they had in the race. Clearly, with all of the resources of his family fortune and the RNC at his disposal, Hayes vetted Larry for us. We know they have no real arguments to present to the voters in the form of negative attacks.

Putting the Pub in Publisher said...

There must be dozens of pols who lament not running in '06. I suspect the mayor of Rockingham has lost some sleep over this.
Wayne, I believe you'd have kicked some butt if you had been on the ticket.

pirate84 said...

In my humble opinion, Larry Kissell was on of the most exciting candidates to watch. he proved his mettle in 2006 and it would be a shame if he didn't get the nod in 2008.

Anonymous said...

I live in the NC 9th congressional district, but I've always found the NC 8th congressional races to be very fascinating. It is a given that Congressman Hayes is way beyond repair via his own ineptitude.

However, Mr. Kissell has proven himself above everyone else's expectations with his impressive congressional run and devestating loss. I think that he should run again regardless of what other Democrats think.

I don't know too much about Rick, I have will no opinion about him.

When Mr. Kouri ran for congress in 2002, I have never followed a campagin where there was so much overfocus on his marital status (he was single at the time)than on where he stood with various issues. He still has lots of potential to become a really good politician, if or when he decides to run again for public office. Nevertheless, he was hampered by the media's strange obsession with his bachelorhood.

I have actually met Mr. Kissell and Mr. Kouri at Uptown Democratic Forums within the past several years. I found both men to very sincere persons who wanted to make significant differences for the NC 8th Congressional distrct.

Anonymous said...

I sure didn't notice the overfocus on Mr. Kouri's marital status and I followed that campaign pretty closely. It would take a rank newcomer to politics not to know that politicians' family lives, particularly in a district like the 8th, are interesting to the voters. Almost as interesting as a record of work and achievement in politics, unless a candidate doesn't have one.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Larry did a great job and Chris seems to pique folks interests about his personal life for some reason. Rick I don't know really, but I heard him on WFAE talking about Jim Black AFTER the plea deal. Rick sounded afraid to say anything negative about Black. What little I know about him, I thought he was progressive, but he sure didn't sound progressive. He mentioned reform, but he didn't sound like a reformer. It was kind of embarrassing. The commentator even mentioned how conflicted he sounded.

Wayne Goodwin said...

To ghostwriternc: Melanie was truly flattered by your reference. Many folks asked me whether she would be interested in Congress starting 2 years ago; she received one particular in-person visit from a high-placed, well-respected-Statewide Democrat who strongly encouraged her to run in 2006. Though she chose not to run, she was an early - very early - supporter of Larry Kissell who, after all, is one of her legislative constituents and a dear friend of us both.

Meanwhile, in her post Leanne is right-on-target in my opinion: NC's Eighth District will be in play and where the DCCC and other national players will be investing time and interest and $$$. If not, then it will be at their peril because the 8th is winnable for the Democrats for many reasons. (In a later post I will be glad to enumerate them but they have certainly been listed and analyzed by bloggers and pundits on their own many times before.)