North Carolina Rep. Kissell Draws Upstart Foe

Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:37pm

Freshman Rep. Larry Kissell, who captured the seat in North Carolina’s 8th District for the Democrats in 2008, has drawn a Republican challenger: Lou Huddleston, a businessman and retired U.S. Army colonel, who announced his candidacy Wednesday.

A 31-year Army veteran, Huddleston appears a long-shot as he enters the contest. He lost his only previous bid for public office, a 2008 state House race, to incumbent Democrat Margaret Dickson. But Republicans think he has the potential to become a credible challenger to Kissell, given his resume as a military man and a local business leader, as well as the fact that he is African-American. African-Americans make up more than a quarter of the 8th district electorate.

Huddleston appears to be the GOP’s man in the 8th District, which the GOP says is its top target in the state, after other recruits decided to pass on the race. Former five-term Rep. Robin Hayes — who lost a 2008 rematch to Kissell by 55 percent to 45 percent in 2008 after winning their 2006 contest by a razor-thin margin — announced last Wednesday that he would forgo a comeback bid.