N. Carolina challenger beat incumbent with less money

WASHINGTON — Larry Kissell often said he wouldn't need as much money as Rep. Robin Hayes to beat him — and he was right.

New campaign finance figures show that Kissell, a North Carolina school teacher who will be sworn in to office next month, raised and spent $1.34 million on his winning campaign.

Hayes, the five-term Republican who lost the 8th District rematch with Kissell, spent $3.8 million, including a flurry of spending in the campaign's final days. He paid out $1.2 million in the period after Oct. 16 on the Nov. 4 contest, records filed this week with the Federal Election Commission show.

The spending by Hayes — the big ticket items were television ads and direct mail — could be an early signal that congressional campaigns are getting increasingly more expensive even among the defeated. The average spent by an incumbent who wasn't re-elected in 2006 was $2.8 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Kissell had $24,000 in the bank as of Nov. 24, but $93,000 in debt. Hayes had secured a $250,000 bank loan to help his campaign.

The FEC data only shows what was raised and spent by the candidates themselves. It doesn't reflect the money spent on their behalf by outside groups.

Here's a glance at what other North Carolina members of Congress and their unsuccessful challengers spent on their 2008 campaigns:

9th District: Rep. Sue Myrick, a Republican from Charlotte, spent $1.1 million and had $229,000 left in the bank as of Nov. 24. Her opponent Harry Taylor, a realtor from Charlotte, spent $239,000 and was left with $61,000 in debt.

10th District: Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Cherryville Republican, spent $1.4 million on his campaign, had $91,000 in cash and $265,000 in debt, all personal loans to himself. His challenger, Democratic Daniel Johnson of Hickory, had not filed the latest report as of Friday.

12th District: Rep. Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat, spent $332,000 in the two-year campaign period, and had $98,000 in cash. His opponent, Republican Ty Cobb of Salisbury, hadn't filed a report with the FEC as of Friday.