The Kissell Mystery

I've grown increasingly baffled over recent weeks by Larry Kissell's mysterious behavior on the health care reform bill.

His stubborn opposition to the pending legislation makes no policy sense, and it makes no political sense. His reported failure to even return calls of active volunteers and fundraising supporters from 2008 (both in and out of his district) who are now distressed by his intransigent opposition to reform is...politically foolish, let us say. Even if you have a well-reasoned position which you do not intend to change, you do not simply ignore your supporters. You call, you explain, you limit the political damage and try to retain their support for other issues and other days.

Yesterday I was told that he had refused an invitation to meet with President Obama on this topic. That's the sitting president from his own party. Even if he treated it as a mere courtesy call, a member of Congress simply does not blow off his president's invitation in that manner, if he hopes to have any long-term influence on how policy is made in the areas he views as important to his own constituents and priorities.

What IS going on with Kissell?

I still don't know, but one source who might know told me yesterday that his chief of staff appears to be controlling access to Kissell and directing the information which reaches him in a manner to downplay the hole into which he is digging himself. That's certainly an explanation which could help produce the publicly observed patterns, especially with a first-term member of Congress who is still very new to political work in general and Washington in particular.

With about 24 hours left to go before the expected showdown House vote on reform, I'm left coming back to an old question. Does anyone have a direct contact route to Rep. Kissell? Family? Mutual close friend? Someone whose call he could be expected to actually take?

If so, please, this is the last chance to reach him: Use it now. After tomorrow, it will likely be too late to undo the damage that is being done--possibly to our nation, probably to other Democratic candidates in the 8th District, and certainly to Larry Kissell himself.


Of all that's incorrect in

Of all that's incorrect in this post, the most egregious claim is that Congressman Kissell is ducking or disrespecting the President.

via the Charlotte Observer:

On Thursday, Kissell was one of two N.C. Democrats invited to the Rose Garden to watch President Obama sign a jobs bill.


This is like saying that I came to your steak dinner but when you asked me over for hamburgers I headed to another guy's house for steak.

Corrections happily accepted--by Rep. Kissell.

The reports that Rep. Kissell has failed to respond to supporters on this issue have been too widespread and consistent for me to consider them baseless.

As for the report that he refused an invitation from the president to meet on this issue this week, I have presented it merely as a single-source report, which fits with a broader observed pattern of concern. If Rep. Kissell specifically denies it, I will certainly post a follow-up noting that.

Similiarly, if Rep. Kissell reports back publicly that he is well aware of the firestorm of consternation from supporters and constituents surrounding his opposition to the health care reform legislation, then we will know that there is no one to blame for his decisions on this but him.

Christopher, I am well aware that publicly criticizing a fellow elected Democrat is a serious matter, and I have not raised these questions lightly. Like most NC Democrats, I very much wanted Rep. Kissell to succeed as a member of Congress. I am deeply concerned that he may not be fully aware of the depth and breadth of distress which his decisions on this issue are causing among the very people who have been and should have continued to be his most enthusiastic supporters.

Access to health care is viewed by many Democrats (including myself) as the most critical social justice problem of our time. And for all its shortcomings, the current bill (up for the pivotal House vote late Sunday) has become the last best chance of our generation to get started on a national commitment to universal health care coverage.

Rep. Kissell should know that with the vote so close, on an issue so fundamental to everything Democrats stand for, his vote later today is going to be one of those very few which will define him for a lifetime.

Dan Besse


On every point. Ditto.

Kissell is well on his way to becoming the invisible man.

About 24% of the children in Kissell's district

are below the poverty line. Many of his constituents are below the poverty line. Tell them, Larry, that health care isn't worthy of a yes vote.

Stan Bozarth

Both could be true

Both of these things could have happened. He could have chosen to go to one event and not the other.


Not true.

I work for Larry, and it isn't true.

Live blog request

This is a public and open request for Larry Kissell to join us for a live blog at his earliest convenience. Since you work for him, perhaps you'll pass the request along.

Dan Besse

Check your messages


Thanks Dan

Both for the post, which is spot on, and the proving of the post's primary argument. I do not know if the person that commented actually works for Larry, but if he does that means Larry is having people read these threads but refusing to respond to this community.

Pardon me for thinking the conversation is going something like this:

Kissell: Did you check BlueNC?

Worker: Yeah, they are upset about your vote and want you to engage with them.

Kissell: F*** them.

Re-election Campaign

In most peoples eyes, Health Care Reform is about the only thing Congress has been working on for over the past year. Voting no here will look a wasted term in office.

I could almost understand if he had a more rural and more conservative district, but this is Charlotte and Fayetteville we're talking about.

Here is a map of the center of state showing counties that went for President Obama:

Almost all that Blue you see near the bottom from those 2008 election results, that's Kissell's district. Granted it might not be as blue in an off year election. But the die-hard democrats, the ones that support health care reform, will still be turning out and so will the die-hard republicans. Which of those two groups is Congressman Kissell counting on to re-elect him?

A sad note among celebration.

Rep. Kissell has made his choice, and will be not be counted on the roll of heroes for social justice and equality.

Dan Besse

Hail Larry Kissell

A Democrat with fiscal novel. As for the rest, your celebration will be short lived. You have awakened real Patriots across this nation with your euro-fanaticism. We will fight you in the courts, at the ballot box, with our dollars (as long as they have value) and if necessary, in the streets. We are far stronger and more resolute than you could ever imagine.

May I Recommend

that you forward these thoughts to Congressman Kissell. I am sure he will appreciate them.


Thank you Yamamoto the giant was awaken by Bush and you saw the results last November. Btw, saying "dollars (as long as they have value)" shows a lot of confidence in your own country. America saw how much "fiscal sense" your kind of people demonstrated while in power. Let us hope they don't forget soon.

Kissell has about much fiscal sense as a barrel of hair.

His explanation when voting against the energy bill was how badly the increased costs (from cap & trade / emissions control) would hurt his constituents. I didn't do precise math but I figured the cost per KWH might go up about $0.00014 which would amount to a walloping $0.28 monthly for a homeowner using 2000 KWH per month. Say I'm off by a factor of 50 (and I'm not) it's still no big deal. Kissell voted against this bill...and HCR for other reasons. What those reasons might be, I'm not privileged to know.

I've met a few of the "real patriots" you mention and perhaps associate yourself with. Alluding to the old saying about the jury box, the ballot box, the soap box...leaving only the cartridge a common thread in their rhetoric. If the collective "you" are so strong and so resolute why don't you put your effort into getting your / our elected representatives to work together to do good for we the people. Congress complains about costs but have no problem funding two wars ...outside the budget...digging the hole even deeper. Best I can tell, these folks you're so big on are strong on wrapping yourselves in the flag, aligning themselves with snake-handling evangelicals, and making up outlandish tales (i.e. death panels)....and shaking their fists...and that's about it.

Ya'll do whatever you want in the streets. Knock yourselves out.

Stan Bozarth

Thank you

to the North Carolina Democrats who share in this historic victory for a healthier, more compassionate, more just America: Representatives Butterfield, Etheridge, Miller, Price, and Watt.

Dan Besse

Good point, Dan

Let's all make the effort in the next couple of days to thank these men for their commitment to doing the hard work.