Democrat Larry Kissell, a teacher from Biscoe, ousted five-term Republican Rep. Robin Hayes Tuesday. It was Hayes' own words that sealed his fate. Hayes was warming up the crowd in Concord for John McCain Oct. 30 when he said: “Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.”
Those words, which he first denied but later admitted when told they were on tape, dogged him for the rest of the campaign, and rightly so. They represented the mean-spirited partisanship that voters soundly rejected. Hayes was wrong to use them, and he belatedly acknowledged that.
But he was wrong in more substantive ways for the people of the 8th U.S. House District. Much of the district is rural and poor. Many residents have been hard hit by the depressed economy, especially those in textile communities where manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Hayes supported many of President Bush's policies that pushed the country into deeper economic trouble. And he didn't support programs such as an expansion of SCHIP, the health insurance for children, that are lifelines for economically stressed communities.
Kissell, a former textile worker, promises to do better for the district. He is a serious, smart, down-to-earth man who knows the area and its concerns. He pledges to work for stronger protections for U.S. workers in international free trade, raise the federal minimum wage and expand SCHIP.
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Hayes' misjudgments before and during this campaign were his undoing. Kissell, who lost by just 330 votes to Hayes in 2006, promises to work across the aisle to address the district's needs. This win is the collective voice of his constituents saying that he should and must.