Hayes, who defeated Kissell by just 329 votes in 2006 and then lost to him in 2008 by a margin of almost 10 times that number (30,551 votes, to be precise), announced Wednesday that he would not try to regain his 8th District seat in 2010, the Associated Press reported.
Instead, Hayes told the AP, he plans to play a behind-the-scenes role in the campaign.
Hayes’ decision doesn’t mean that Kissell has an easy path back to Capitol Hill. Although he currently lives just outside the 8th District boundaries, Pat McCrory, the longtime mayor of Charlotte, has been mentioned as a potential top-tier GOP challenger. He is already well known outside the city; in the 2008 gubernatorial campaign, McCrory ran a highly competitive (but ultimately unsuccessful) race against Democrat Bev Purdue.