DCCC to help Kissell pay off credit card debt

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) is asking supporters to come to the aid of Larry Kissell, the high school teacher and former mill worker who ran up $35,000 in credit card debt campaigning for North Carolina’s 8th district Congressional seat in the November midterm.

Van Hollen and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will host a reception at the DCCC headquarters Wednesday, Aug. 1, aimed at paying off the personal debt Kissell accrued. The DCCC will match donated funds 2-1.

Kissell came within 329 votes out of 121,523 cast of unseating Robin Hayes, the now-5th-term Republican who outspent Kissell $2,475,169 to $779,341 according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Now [Kissell] needs our help more than ever,” Van Hollen said in a letter to supporters. “That’s why I want you to meet Larry for yourself and help him continue his fight.”

As a relatively low-profile candidate, Kissell missed out on early invites to Washington from the DCCC during his campaign. The committee had initially backed Tim Dunn, an Iraq War veteran who would eventually drop out of the primary, and lent much of its focus in North Carolina to former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler, who now represents the state’s 11th district in Congress.

Since the November election, Kissell has seen support from former DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Recruitment Chairman Artur Davis (Ala.), who have both made fundraising appearances on Kissell’s behalf.

“North Carolina's 8th district is one of our best opportunities to expand our Democratic Majority,” Van Hollen said. “This year, Larry has picked up right where he left off by running a strong campaign.”

Until November, Hayes had retained his seat with at least 54% of the vote since after his first victory in 1998. During the fall campaign the Charlotte News-Observer noted that, despite one 8th-district county voting 68% in favor of President George W. Bush in 2004, the majority of the district’s voters had registered as Democrats.

Though the DCCC has lent top-level support to Kissell, the 2006 long-shot may face a primary in the next cycle, as Democratic state Rep. Rick Glazier is reportedly considering a bid for the 8th-district seat. The DCCC has said it plans to stay with Kissell as its choice to oppose Hayes.