According to Tim Funk of The Charlotte Observer, there are only three races to watch from the Carolinas where the U.S. House of Representatives is concerned. Fortunately, one of them is the Kissell v. Hayes race in the 8th Congressional District in North Carolina.
Find out which races are being watched on the flip side...
Since none of the top outsider firms Cook, CQ and Hotline rate this race as even a remote possibility, it appears to me that Tim Funk must know something they don't. He does admit that it is a "maybe" race to watch, but that he mentions it at all is pretty big. The Observer tends to favor Hayes. It featured an article on March 22nd (hidden behind archives firewall, sorry) that ran with the meme that CAFTA had been a great deal for Hayes. Of course, you had to read it carefully to realize that what Hayes meant by CAFTA being great for him was that it brought him hundreds of thousands in donations from businesses and his millionaire friends. Hayes was obviously ignoring any blowback from the people who were actually affected by CAFTA, you know those pesky little things called voters.
Then, for Hayes, ignoring the voters comes naturally. He's good at it. It appears the voters are figuring it out. Good for them.
One diarist at DailyKos who is known for following U.S. House races has moved the Kissell v. Hayes race up to second tier. I think it is simply a matter of time before this race has national attention. An independent poll completed by Dean Debnam of Public Policy Polling (PDF) in Raleigh shows Larry Kissell with a healthy lead over Robin Hayes.
Those of us who have met Larry Kissell, looked at the numbers and have an understanding of the 8th District are a little bit ahead of the curve when it comes to taking this race seriously. There's plenty of time for the rest to catch up. I'm giving them until July
The other N.C. race to watch is between Heath Shuler and Charles Taylor(i) in the 11th Congressional District. The outsiders are more enthusiastic about Shuler's chances than they are Kissell's, but the voter makeup leans in Taylor's favor. Shuler was recently picked up by DCCC and has raised a substantial amount of money. That appears to carry more weight with outsiders than actual polls.
Time will tell and Democrats in and outside of North Carolina need to turn these seats blue. Both candidates have very active volunteers and enthusiastic supporters. Both Democrats are facing millionaires who can afford to pour their own money into their campaigns.