What do Scotland County, Cumberland County, Richmond County and Cabarrus County all have in common? They have all had a visit from Larry Kissell, a candidate who believes that a good way to lead is to follow. He's following the example of traditional grassroots candidates and knocking on doors, talking to his constituents and listening to their needs and goals for the future. He's leading by standing up for the people in his district and taking their concerns to Washington.
Larry isn't just visiting these counties. He's walking and knocking on doors. The Laurinburg Exchange (registration required) is running a piece that describes Larry's travels through the district in the heat of Indian Summer and Larry is learning from his contituents.
"The majority of the people are very concerned. They're concerned that they can't maintain the life that they've been used to, they're concerned about jobs, education, fuel prices—these things that affect them day to day," he stated. "Throughout this district, every night, there's people that are worrying about this. And that's why we're here."
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The Exhange also makes note of something most of us have noticed and that is the Kissell campaign is moving full steam ahead and shows no sign of stopping.
Since winning the Democratic primary election back in May, the high school teacher and 27-year veteran of textiles said his campaign continues to build momentum with numerous events scheduled in the coming months, including a Gospel music concert featuring Bill Hefner and The Harvesters Quartet in Rockingham on Sept. 8.
Larry Kissell is also featured in another newspaper today, The Fayettevile Observer. The reporter gives us a good idea of what this traditional grassroots campaigning is like.
His focus Wednesday was not on strategy, but on shoe leather. He campaigned door to door, a tactic normally seen in local elections.
His blue pin-stripped shirt quickly was soaked with sweat.
He knocked on the doors of people who were registered as a Democrat or an unaffiliated voter. Mostly, his knocks went unanswered. He left a signed campaign flier.
The value of door-to-door campaigning is listening to residents, he said. Many, like Lori Saunders of Devane Street, are shocked that a congressional candidate would take the time to knock on their door. “Most are concerned the direction the country is going in,” he said.
Those of us who have been Larry fans for a while already know that he has what it takes to win this race. He has the drive, the energy the stamina to physically walk the streets and talk with the voters. Regardless of Robin Hayes' success in the past, we know that this year is different. Larry knows that too.
By conventional standards, Kissell faces an overwhelming challenge. Hayes has more name recognition and money. Hayes had $1.2 million as of June 30 — 14 times Kissell's $85,000, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Kissell says it's an unconventional year for politics. People are upset with President Bush and a Congress that doesn't listen to them.
Garth Regan, campaign manager for Hayes, said Wednesday, "The last time I checked 'Washington' was not on the ballot this year."
Oooo, snappy, Garth. You must be new. Either that or everyone is tired of the dramatics of Carolyn Hern with her outrageous and bizarre labels for everything.
The trip to Fayetteville was noteable for a couple of different reasons. I think the reporter does a great job ending this piece, so I'll let him have the last word here as well.
Kissell had the most success on Ellington Street, where Brad Miller, the Democratic congressman from Raleigh, grew up.
Ellington residents Wayne and Verna Reece agreed with Kissell. "We need new blood," Wayne Reece said.
The Reeces want something done about high gas prices and the cost of prescription drugs, but don't touch Social Security.
It is encounters like this — and one over breakfast — that encourage Kissell.
As he ate breakfast, a diner walked to his table and stared at him.
"Are you the candidate? Yes? Well, I'm angry; we need a change."