Kissell said too much of the focus in Washington has been placed on loyalty to the party and not enough on loyalty to the constituents.
The job is to represent your district, Kissell said. If you go up there and youre concerned about other people and their opinions of you then you shouldnt be up there. You go up there to represent your district.
Democrats cried foul when North Carolina Republicans redrew voting districts that made it significantly harder for several Democratic congressmen to keep their seats. Republicans hope to pick up as many as four House seats, including those held by Kissell and McIntrye. Democratic Reps. Brad Miller of Raleigh and Heath Shuler of Waynesville already announced they would not run again in the new districts.Its not the first time redistricting has been used as a political weapon. The practice reached a boiling point in Texas in 2003 when Republican Rep. Tom DeLay made no secret about his intent to redistrict the state to the advantage of his party. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually stepped in and allowed the main elements of DeLays plan to stand.
Despite their votes on big issues like health care, Democrats need conservative members like Kissell and McIntyre if they want to retake control of the House. The party that has majority control sets the legislative agenda, chooses the speaker of the House and assigns committee chairs.
The majority party has essentially a monopoly on the floor agenda, said Andy Taylor, a political scientist at North Carolina State University. The members of the minority have very little influence, especially on legislation of national scope.
Its for this reason that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is tasked with electing more House Democrats, has pledged its support by reserving $1 million in TV advertising for McIntyre and $1.1 million for Kissell.
Both Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre continue to win the support of Democrats, independents and Republicans because each of them have been independent voices for their districts focused on creating jobs, honoring our military families and protecting seniors, said Stephanie Formas, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
One incumbent Democrat said leaders must often ask themselves how important is it to have a member with a D instead of an R next to their name.
Its a dilemma that many of us in the progressive community find ourselves in from time to time, said G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson, N.C., Democrat among those who are angry with Kissell. Would we prefer to hold our nose and continue to support a Democrat who does not support the Democratic agenda and Democratic values just in the interest of not having a right-wing Republican in the seat? Its very frustrating. I dont have the magic answer.
Obama desperately wants to win the swing state of North Carolina again, but it could be tougher without the support of the two House Democrats. But McIntyre and Kissell are running in new districts that have been redrawn to include thousands more Republicans.
The candidates have likely held conversations with the presidents campaign staff saying its probably best not to run together, Taylor said.
Theyd probably prefer the president not campaign at all in North Carolina, Taylor said. But you cant tell the president where to spend his time, because hes going to spend it wherever he wants and youre not going to be able to persuade him otherwise, he said.