The 8th District Black Leadership Caucus has endorsed a write-in candidate, Antonio Blue, in place of Congressman Larry Kissell.
The announcement was made Wednesday at the NAACP building in Hamlet in conjunction with Political Action Council.
The decision was made July 7 at a meeting of the Caucus’ Executive Committee in response to comments made by Kissell to the Charlotte Observer that he would not endorse President Barack Obama for re-election and may not attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
Blue is a veteran and the mayor of Dobbins Heights in Richmond County. In a statement, the Caucus described him as “fair and consistent.”
“The Executive Committee and the general membership feel that Congressman Kissell has abandon [sic] issues that are crucial to the survival of low wealth individuals and communities across the 8th District,” according to the statement.
Kissell is facing a tight race in November. The 8th District was redrawn in 2010 by the North Carolina General Assembly and voter demographics have shifted in a manner that will make his re-election more difficult.
He has taken heat from his party in the past. He refused to vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” citing cuts to Medicare. He later refused to support an effort by Republicans in Congress to overturn the bill.
Local Democrats have criticized him for the comments.
“It’s unexcusable what he did,” Donnie Lewis said. “If a person is supposed to stand for something, stand all the way.”
“I like being able to do what’s necessary without any outside influences,” former Board of Education member Leon Gatewood said. He resigned from the school board because he felt he could help the community more outside of elected office. Gatewoood said he supports the president.
“I was disappointed,” he said of Kissell’s comments.
Kissell’s opponent in November is still unknown. Republicans Richard Hudson and Scott Keadle are facing off in a second primary July 17 for the party’s nomination in the race. Early voting in that primary will go on until July 14.