An insurgent Democratic Party candidacy can now be added to a growing list of concerns for 8th District U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell.
Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue was picked on Wednesday to serve as a write-in candidate against Kissell by the 8th District Black Leadership Caucus Political Action Committee. Blue, who also serves a chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party, said he will resign from that post.
“I will do everything in my power and will give you 200 percent, just like I did in the military for 24 years,” Blue told the group of about 35 that packed the small NAACP building in Hamlet.
For caucus members, the decision to support someone other than the Democratic nominee was reached after Kissell announced that he would not be endorsing President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Walter Rogers, PAC spokesperson and chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus.
Asked if he thought a write-in candidate could win, Rogers said it was possible.
“But if (Blue) doesn’t win, he will make a statement,” Rogers said. “Not just a statement in the 8th District, but a statement all across the country where elected Democrats are voting with Republicans.”
“The message is that if you are a Democrat, be true to what you are and vote in a Democratic way,” Blue said.
In addition to Kissell’s vote on Wednesday to repeal the health care act, Blue said that the incumbent’s “lack of support for the president and his vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt” were factors in his decision to oppose the congressman.
“You can’t claim to be a Democrat and not support the leaders of your own party,” Blue said.
Blue said that he “just found out” at Wednesday’s meeting that he was the PAC’s pick.
“I was pleased with their decision, but it was not an easy decision for me,” said Blue, citing his desire to spend time with his four-year-old daughter. “I was willing to participate because I believe in the cause.”
When asked about a potential write-in candidate earlier on Wednesday, 8th District Democratic Chair June Mabry said that it was the job of party officials “to support the Democratic nominee, period.”
Mabry said that she is still trying to schedule a meeting between Kissell and the district’s executive board, but has not yet “been able to lock in a date.”
A Kissell aide attended Wednesday’s caucus meeting, but declined to comment.