It seems clear to most of the folks paying attention realize that 8 and 11 are the two races to watch closely. I myself have been paying a lot more attention to Shuler's bid in the 11th, (it's my district) but lately Kissell has really caught my attention. If I may, I'd like to point out some of the different ways that Kissell is, so far, running a better campaign.
First of all, while his website is not that pretty, Larry's is full of information. He has a dozen or so policy-type papers, merchandice, and- my favorite part- the Featured Volunteers page. This is great stuff. Heath's site, on the other had, has a nice look, but hardly any substance. He does not offer one concrete idea, nor does he mention his party affiliation.
This, I suppose, is telling. The whole campaign, not just the website, has been thus far one dimensional. He is a good public figure with a warm personality, and I have no doubt that he is electable. Perhaps, given the times, being a generic Democrat running agaist Taylor will be enough. If it is, lucky us, but if not, then Heath Shuler needs to make it happen.
What Shuler needs to do, in my opinion, is establish connections through out the district. He needs to ask the important folks around here what they want- fire chiefs, sheriffs, local politicians, community organizers, Democrats and Republicans- and he needs to let them know whether or not he can give it to them. He needs to be a public pressence, which is not to say that he has to be in your face or obnoxious. Most importantly, he needs to start fleshing out a platform. He needs to take a stand on some issues. While he can look back at Taylor dropping the ball on CAFTA, this Forest Service bit might be a good place to start. He needs to say something, so that people can know who he really is.
The fact is, he has been getting great press. He is the type of candidate who will be able to win here, and it is encouraging to see that he is willing to work. He has yet to demonstrate how well he can adapt, but he has shown good signs. For one thing, he seems to be reaching out to the netroots. On his website there is a seemingly strange "Blogger Connection" page. Good start. At least he is looking in the right places and asking for involvement.
This will be a huge race to watch, and a great win come November. I just hope that the old QB doesn't have any qualms about looking through a teammate's play-book, and that everyone who has got a hand to lend finds the time to do so.
By the way, I've been reading over this site for some time and am looking forward to becoming more active. It's good to be here.