Are people mad because Larry Kissell is a moderate?

The press suggests again and again that many people across the state are mad at Larry Kissell because he is a moderate.

The N&O recently wrote, for example, that the “middle is a dangerous place”.

It continues:

With our politics particularly polarized, it is increasingly difficult to be in the middle. Take 8th District Democratic Congressman Larry Kissell of Biscoe. Although he is the first Democrat to hold the seat in a decade, he had a stiffer-than-expected challenge in the Democratic primary because he voted against the health care legislation.

It’s true that Democrats that helped elect Kissell are frustrated that he would vote against health reform. But the larger problem is not his vote, but his prevarication.

In statements, editorials, and campaign mailers he continues to misrepresent reform. When pressed, he changes his justifications for voting against reform.

He says that he does not want to cut Medicare. But he will not specify what Medicare provision in the bill he opposes. Is it the gradual reductions in Medicare Advantage benchmarks to reduce overpayments in high cost areas like Miami and Los Angeles? Is it the alteration of market basket updates that the Obama administration negotiated with hospitals? That’s the bulk of Medicare changes. Which one of these two provisions will cause seniors to choose between food and medical care?

If Kissell simply said that he canvassed his district and found that even after correcting the misinformation his constituents oppose reform — then his vote would draw less opposition. I could certainly accept that explanation.

The problem is that Kissell isn’t providing an honest defense of his vote. That’s the behavior some people have come to expect from typical politicians. But a typical politician is not what Kissell supporters thought they were getting.



you are so good. Quick and to the point. I, on the other hand, get very steamed and say too much.


Bait & switch.

I think that the reason Kissell's vote drew special fire from Democratic activists was also the related story of his candidacy. He ran explicitly as a populist who solicited and received broad support from Democrats across the state. Many of those Democratic activists therefore felt personally betrayed by Kissell's votes against two of the signature initiatives of the new Obama administration, on energy/climate legislation and then on health care reform.

The illogical basis of his stated opposition to the health care bill, followed by his campaign's egregious anti-reform mailer right before the primary, further aggravated the resentment.

In comparison, both McIntyre and Shuler explicitly campaign as more socially conservative Democrats. No one ever really expected better from McIntyre on this issue.

Shuler was somewhat more of a disappointment on health care, but not much--most observers wrote off his vote on this issue early on. And, unlike Kissell and McIntyre, Shuler actually voted FOR the House energy/climate bill--to all appearances, a controversial vote for him politically, and one taken on personal principle. That earned him credit among some overlapping elements within the Democratic political spectrum.

Dan Besse

Agree completely, Dan

Kissell portrayed himself as a moderate. When he campaigned alongside David Price and Brad Miller, I expected Larry to be another congressman like them.

Obviously, that's not what we got.

The Mailer

If I hadn't known he was gone, I would have thought it was from Jesse Helms. People are saving that mailer and showing it at parties. What is he thinking?


He voted for the wrong side on the estate tax, and on a tax of

the AIG bonus. He also voted against the Budget supported by the Black caucus, and the Progressive caucus. His Ad against health insurance reform was very insulting. He should apologize for that. People are still mad about that.