The three North Carolinians on my list of 99 – Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre, and Heath Shuler — are among the tougher calls; they’re all Democrats who have proven they can win in GOP-leaning districts in good Democratic years. Among their GOP challengers, only Ilario Pantano (running against McIntyre) stands out so far.
But there’s the possibility of a left-leaning third-party bid. Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen looks at Tuesday’s primary results and concludes:
Kissell received 63% and Shuler only 62% against candidates who did not have the resources to mount really serious campaigns.
The poor performances by Kissell and Shuler and where they did poorly – the most liberal parts of their districts – are a clear indication that there is significant unhappiness with them on the left. The question now is how that unhappiness will manifest itself this fall.
There are three things I can see happening with that group of voters in November:
1) They could just leave the House race part of their ballot blank when they go to vote.
2) They could support candidates of the SEIU backed ‘North Carolina First’ party, which will presumably provide voters a choice to the left of Kissell and Shuler.
3) They may have gotten the protest vote out of their systems in the primary and could still vote for Kissell and Shuler in the general election when the consequences of not doing so could result in the election of a conservative Republican to Congress.
It’s way too early to know how any of this will play itself out.
While I think Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, is likely to win his reelection bid, he doesn’t seem like the type to have serious coattails for GOP candidates down-ticket.