We've heard a lot of talk about the vulnerablity Congressman Bob Etheridge of North Carolina after he assaulted a young person on camera but the real race and perhaps the real test of Democratic strength is in the state's 8th Congressional District where first-term incumbent Larry Kissell will take on political newcomer Harold Johnson. The GOP establishment was quite relieved when Johnson emerged from the runoff Tuesday night with a solid majority and they feel strongly that this seat is theirs for the taking. However, if Kissell can fight back he still may be able to retain the seat. This will be a classic matchup of the power of incumbency vs. the classic anti-incumbent.
North Carolina is a bit more liberal than people think. It has elected Democratic governors and Senators for years and in 2008 President Obama was able to scratch by with a victory in the state. CD 8 stretches from Charlotte to about Fayetteville which would lead you to think that it is a fairly typical southern conservative district-but that's not true. Northerners have flocked to the Charlotte area in recent years and many of them are more liberal than their Carolinian neighbors who have lived there for generations. These transplants, along with a traditional Blue Dog Democrats and African-Americans have created a powerful voting bloc in the state (that's a large part of the reason Republican Senator Richard Burr doesn't have very high reelection numbers) and its this coalition that Larry Kissell rode to victory in 2008. There will be early indicators on election night whether or not the House will flip and this will be one of those seats where an examination of the returns will tell us a lot. In November keep your eye on the two Democratic seats in New Hamsphire and three vulnerable Democrats (Donnelly CD 2, Open CD 8, Hill CD 9)in Indiana. If they lose the House will be in the hands of the GOP by midnight.