LUMBERTON — The leader of Robeson County’s Black Caucus says that Robeson County blacks will support U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell’s re-election bid in the 8th District.
According to Jimmy Gilchrist, Robeson County’s Black Caucus president, that organization’s political action committee has endorsed the congressman over Republican candidate Richard Hudson, of Concord, and write-in candidate Antonio Blue, a Democrat from Richmond County. Blue, the current chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party, is the choice of the 8th District Black Leadership Caucus Political Action Committee.
“We feel that he is the man for the job,” Gilchrist said of Kissell. “He will represent everybody in the 8th District, not just blacks.”
Gilchrist said that Kissell, a Democrat from Biscoe who has held the seat ;since January 2009, has pushed the agenda of President Barack Obama.
“The country is moving in the right direction with Democrats in charge,” he said. “We need to see that a Democrat is elected in the 8th District. We (blacks) won’t get anything from a Republican Congress.”
Kissell came under fire from the 8th District Democratic Party when he said in an interview that he would not endorse President Obama’s bid for re-election. Many blacks in Kissell’s district are also upset that he had not supported the Affordable Health Care Act.
However, according to newspaper reports, June Mabry, chairman of the 8th District Democratic Party, said that she was told by Leanne Powell, Kissell’s chief of staff, that Kissell actually said he “doesn’t endorse anyone, but that he will be voting for President Obama.”
Kissell is largely regarded as a moderate to conservative Democrat. In addition to opposing Obama’s health care bill, he also opposed the president’s cap-and-trade bill to reduce global warming, and did not support former Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader following the elections in 2010.
Gilchrist said Kissell has supported legislation that has helped blacks and others in Robeson and surrounding counties.
“He has helped with education, Medicaid, Medicare and programs for seniors,” Gilchrist said. “True, he voted against Obama’s health care bill but that was already a done deal. The bill passed and we won. That’s water under the bridge and we should move on.”
This is the first time that almost all of Robeson County is included in the 8th District. Until recent redistricting, all of Robeson County was part of the 7th District currently represented by Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from Lumberton.
The 8th District includes counties stretching west from Cumberland to Mecklenburg. The new boundaries include areas more traditionally Republican, as well as encompassing some of the fastest growing counties in the state.
The new district lost several precincts in predominantly black communities in Mecklenburg County. With the addition of Robeson County, however, the district gained a county that is heavily Democratic.
Gilchrist said that those black leaders in the 8th District advocating the election of a write-in candidate are going to make it easy for a Hudson, Kissell’s Republican challenger, to win the District 8 seat.
“They just don’t get the whole picture,” Gilchrist said. “We need to hold that seat. We need to support a candidate who can win.”
Gilchrist said that there will be an all-out effort in Robeson County to get black voters to the polls in November.
“There’s going to to be a strong campaign to encourage people to vote,” Gilchrist said. “We’re going to make sure that voters turn out to the polls.”
Hudson, a former congressional aide, handily defeated his GOP challenger Scott Keadle for the GOP 8th District nomination in a primary runoff held July 17. Hudson is a conservative who served as district director for U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes. He contends he can jump right into the job as a congressman because of his experience.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.