Congressional candidate Richard Hudson of Concord spoke to a partially filled Times Forum arena Tuesday at the Republican National Convention, hours before the GOP rolled out their big hitters for prime time.
Hudson, running in the 8th Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell, was one of three North Carolina candidates to take the stage just after 3 p.m. It was the most congressional candidate speakers from any state, and another indication of the importance the GOP is placing on North Carolina.
“This election is about real people, people who are suffering under the policies of President Obama and his friends like Larry Kissell,” Hudson said in his two-minute speech.
Kissell, of Biscoe, is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats after redistricting added heavily Republican areas of Rowan, Davidson and Randolph counties to the newly mapped 8th district. Redistricting also removed thousands of Democratic voters in Charlotte and Fayetteville.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved $1.2 million to defeat Kissell. Executive Director Guy Harrison called Kissell the “weakest incumbent in the country.”
Democrats dismissed such language. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending $1.1 million to help Kissell. Polls show the race remains too close to call.
“It’s no surprise that Washington insiders continue to think they know what North Carolina needs or wants or should do,” said Christopher Shuler, Kissell’s spokesman. “It’s also no surprise that, once again, they’re wrong.”
But Kissell is not only feeling heat from the right. The 8th District’s Black Leadership Caucus pulled its support for Kissell and picked Democrat Antonio Blue, mayor of Dobbins Heights in Richmond County, to run as a write-in candidate.
Kissell angered the caucus after he voted against President Barack Obama’s health care plan and was one of 17 Democrats who voted to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
Republicans David Rouzer of the 7th District and Mark Meadows of the 8th District also spoke.