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« Kerry Challenger Makes DC Rounds | Blog Home Page | Early Advantage For Maffei »

Return Of The Goat

Democrat Larry Kissell, a high school teacher and former textile worker, fell 329 votes shy of defeating GOP Rep. Robin Hayes in 2006. Kissell is running again this year, and the DCCC is likely to support him more than it did in the previous election.

Through the end of 2007, Hayes outraised Kissell by almost $1 million. When the DCCC steps in, Kissell's financial numbers should rise substantially, though Hayes has the ability to self-finance his campaign if necessary. No other candidates filed for the seat by Friday's filing deadline, so Hayes and Kissell will be able to focus their money and attention on each other.

Outspent 3-1 by Hayes in 2006, Kissell had to get creative to gain attention against the wealthy four-term incumbent. At campaign events during the summer, Kissell appeared with a goat named CAFTA, a reference to the Central American Free Trade Agreement that Hayes supported in 2005. CAFTA was expected to have a negative impact on the textile industry, crucial to the district's economy. Despite stating publicly that he would not support the bill, Hayes cast the deciding vote after party leaders pressed him to switch.

Kissell also made a highly-publicized appearance at a local gas station, where he charged drivers $1.22 per gallon--the price when Hayes first took office in 1999. Kissell pumped gas and paid the difference in cost, as hundreds of cars lined up for the opportunity to buy cheap gas. The move made the national news.

--Kyle Trygstad