Saturday was the first day that Larry Kissell and Robin Hayes attended the same campaign event. I've been working much of the afternoon doing my best to write a serious piece of journalism. After all, there was some serious politicking going on at U-PAC's Stumpin' in the Park. My plans were to do a mature piece devoid of snark, sarcasm or silly photoshop pictures.
Yeah....Like that's gonna happen.
The rumor mill started last week with a story that Robin Hayes was bringing a bus full of supporters. The excitement surrounding this event has been building all week. Hayes supporters put signs up along the busy street that runs near the YMCA where the event was held. It happens to be several miles outside the district. The Kissell team put most of our signs in and around the event. Once the event started, it was obvious who ultimately had the better signage.
There's more on the flip...
Two young Kissell supporters look for strategic locations to tie balloons. (Disclaimer....they belong to me.)
With the help of Kos and BlueNC blogger, Working for Change, the girls start to spread the glow of that golden Kissell yellow around the shelter. (Am I laying it on thick enough?)
Absolutely impossible for Hayes to beat this trio. These double-sided signs were made to hang around their necks which left their hands free to hold Kissell signs. They should have made one for Hayes to hang around his neck that simply read CAFTA!
Robin Hayes and his supporters arrived early and stood around in the heat. In the meantime, Larry Kissell was out knocking on doors in the district. He arrived a few minutes before the event was to start and he was ready to go.
The shelter was starting to fill with candidates, their supporters and the residents of the area who had come to learn more about the candidates vying for their votes. Larry spent a little bit of time chatting with well-wishers before heading over for the first handshake.
What a handshake it was. OK...so, it was really just a handshake. Who had the firmer grip? Who had the brightest smile? Who was more natural at making small talk? All that and more on the speeches in today's Charlotte Observer. Reporter, Jim Morrill, even caught the first words exchanged between the two.
Larry Kissell was the first speaker and after a bit of nervousness he looked out at the audience of mostly Kissell supporters and eased into a pretty hard-hitting speech that served to put Hayes on notice. Hayes is out of touch with the voters. Like other Republicans Hayes is spinning failed policy just to get through the next election and Hayes doesn't represent the core values of the voters in this district. Larry ended his talk letting Hayes know that in the 8th District when someone doesn't do the job they've been sent to do, they get a pink slip. Great delivery and Kissell didn't back down.
Hayes was hesitant and even seemed a bit defensive. I've heard him speak before and he did sound off his game. It could have been the heat. It could have been the fact that the Kissell crowd was decidedly larger and more vibrant than the Hayes crowd. It could have been that the bus idea didn't pan out. Chances are, it's because a first-time candidate stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the aging incumbent and showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that he represents the heart of the district. Larry Kissell understands the voters and he has the fire and the determination to represent them in Washington.
In the Observer story, Jim Morrill gives us this:
Hayes, 61, defended his record. He talked about bringing federal money and help to UNC Charlotte and neighborhoods such as Grier Heights.
"It's not about listing things," he said. "It's about listening to people."
Did you catch that? First Hayes gives us a list of all the things he claims to have done right. Then, he says that it isn't about listing things. He says it's about listening to people. Well, he certainly wasn't listening to "the people" on July 29, 2005 when he chose to listen to Tuscarora Yarns and Altria Group over the working folks in his district.
Hayes declared his pride in wearing the 82nd Airborne baseball cap he had on his head, but he failed to mention his repeated votes to slash veteran's benefits or his votes against increases in benefits. He also failed to mention his decision to send young men and women to war without the necessary body armor or appropriate equipment. The hat's a nice prop, though.
One of my favorite lines from Hayes' speech was, "If you don't think I have a vested interest in the future of this district just take a look at my granddaughter back there and my son." The congressman does have a beautiful family. I'm sure Hayes is concerned about their futures as any good father and grandfather would be.
However, as precious as his granddaughter is, her future is financially secure and she will probably never go for want a day in her life because of the multimillion dollar Cannon family trust. Hayes' concern for the future of children in the 8th rings hollow when you look at the congressman's record. What good will a handful of earmarks do when entire communities are out of work, especially in small towns that lack the infrastructure and safety nets of a city the size of Charlotte?
Larry Kissell calls Hayes a good man who changed when he went to Washington. I disagree with Mr. Kissell on his assessment of Hayes' character. Hayes might be a friendly, good-natured guy when he has to be. He even posed for this picture when he saw me getting shots of the prop he used in his E85 stunt. But, he isn't a good man. A good man doesn't climb over the backs of the people in his district just to keep it tight with the party brass. A good man doesn't sign legislation that in effect releases the tourniquet that is holding off the hemorrhage of jobs from his district. A good man doesn't flat-out, completely, horizontally lie to his constituents.
You seemed a bit testy, Representative Hayes. I can't blame you. It can't be fun having people bird-dog you. It can't be fun having us point out every single mistake after you've been given a free pass from the local press all this time. It can't be fun, but I suggest you get used to it. I have not yet begun to write.