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Ex-Hill Aide Joins Race to Take On Kissell

Former Congressional staffer Richard Hudson on Thursday jumped into the crowded GOP primary to take on vulnerable Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.).

Hudson, 39, who was most recently chief of staff to Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and served as campaign manager on Republican Pat McCrory’s losing Tar Heel State gubernatorial bid in 2008, has a long history in North Carolina. He served as chief of staff to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and district director for former Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.).

Hudson is considered a top-tier contender by national and North Carolina Republicans. He is viewed as having the potential to raise significant funds from his D.C., Raleigh and district contacts.

“I’m coming home to run for Congress because Barack Obama’s liberal policies are killing jobs, and the people of North Carolina deserve better,” Hudson said in a statement late Thursday. “I’m not a politician. I have never run for office before. … I’m a leader with the energy, conservative principles and proven experience necessary to help get our economy moving again.”

Other contenders in the race include insurance executive Daniel Barry, who picked up an important endorsement Thursday from former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin (R), former Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle, neurosurgeon John Whitley, and former Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson.

Two other potential candidates for the 8th district race are state Rep. Fred Steen (R) and businessman Pat Molamphy.

After the Republican-controlled Legislature added a significant Republican tilt to the district, even Democrats in the state admit Kissell has a very steep hill to climb to re-election. Roll Call rates the 8th district — which, under the current lines, Obama carried with 52 percent in 2008 but under the new lines would have garnered only 42 percent — as Likely Republican.

“Larry Kissell is one of the most moderate Members of Congress and is well known in his district for his independence,” spokesman Christopher Schuler said in a statement to Roll Call. “He was challenged last cycle by the left after his vote against health care. He believes his moderate voting record will sustain him despite the change in his district’s makeup.”

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