Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, whose rural North Carolina district has become even more Republican, is bucking his party again in two high-profile congressional votes.
Last week, Kissell was one of 17 Democrats who voted with Republicans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress. And next week, he plans to vote with them again to repeal President Barack Obamas health care law.
Ive heard from hundreds and hundreds of people from my district about their opposition to the health care law, Kissell told the Observer Monday. I voted against it originally and I will vote to repeal it.
Kissell also said he doesnt plan to endorse Obama for re-election and isnt sure hell attend his partys national convention in Charlotte.
Kissell represents the 8th District, which runs from Mecklenburg County to Robeson County. Last years redistricting added heavily Republican areas of Rowan, Davidson and Randolph counties while removing thousands of Democratic voters in Charlotte and Fayetteville.
Redrawn districts have helped make him and Rep. Mike McIntyre of Robeson County who also voted to find Holder in contempt two of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country.
Thursdays vote on Holder wasnt the first time Kissell had bucked his party since being elected in 2008.
In 2009 he was one of 39 House Democrats who voted against the health care bill, which passed by just five votes. He also voted against a Democratic cap-and-trade bill designed to reduce global warming. One pro-health care group ran online ads with his picture and the word Betrayal.
These votes are sparking outrage, too. It doesnt sit well with me at all; I will never support him again, said Ralph Bostic, former Democratic chairman in Kissells home, Montgomery County. He needs to change his party . Thats the way he votes.
But some Democrats say Kissell is doing what he needs to do in a conservative district.
Larry Kissell continues to win the support of both Democrats and Republicans because he has been an independent voice for North Carolina families focused on creating jobs and fighting Republicans efforts to deeply cut Medicare, said Stephanie Formas, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
As a sign of support, the DCCC has reserved $1.1 million in TV advertising for Kissell, she said.
Thats almost as much as the $1.2 million the National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved to defeat him, said spokeswoman Andrea Bozek.
While Larry Kissell can try to have an epiphany and try to run away from the president, he has a clear record of voting with President Obamas job-destroying policies, she said.
The Holder vote, the first time a sitting Cabinet member has ever been found in contempt, was prompted by the attorney generals refusal to respond to a subpoena to release emails and memos related to Operation Fast and Furious, a botched gun-running investigation. The president has invoked executive privilege to block the subpoena.
Many angry House Democrats walked out during the vote.
Kissell said hes not concerned about opinions of party leadership, and that his vote for contempt of Holder was about the need for transparency.