New Labor Party Emerging In North Carolina
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Unidentified Man: We're going to do what?
(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)
(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)
JULIE ROSE: These people chanting were once some of Democratic Congressman Larry Kissell's most ardent supporters. As members of the Service Employees International Union, they knocked on tens of thousands of doors and donated tens of thousands of dollars to help him beat an entrenched Republican in 2008. Then, Kissell announced he was voting against the health care bill. And SEIU members like Sheila Dogan(ph) converged on his office near Charlotte.
SHEILA DOGAN: If he votes no, then he better be prepared to kiss his House seat goodbye because we're going to bring his butt back home.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
ROSE: Their plan is to put a new political party on the ballot in North Carolina this November. Unions have been known to form parties. Think the Labor Party or the Working Families Party, which is active in several states right now. But the SEIU has never done this before, according to spokeswoman Lori Lodes.
DOGAN: Democratic, Republican and Libertarian.
GREG RIDEOUT: For too long we watched members of Congress seem to become part of the same party - the party of insiders.
ROSE: This is Greg Rideout(ph). He's a political consultant helping to steer the SEIU ballot effort.
RIDEOUT: This group, North Carolina First, intends to make sure that the next people who get to Washington are going to watch out for working families and not for insurance company profits.
ROSE: North Carolina First is what they intend to call the party if they can collect 85,000 signatures by June 1st, as the state requires. They've only been at it for two weeks. If Congressman Larry Kissell is nervous that his health care vote will cost him a second term, he's not letting on.
LARRY KISSELL: This is a vote not of politics, but of principle. I made a promise, I kept that promise. We have found a lot of people come to us and just say, thank you for keeping a promise.
ROSE: Raleigh-based pollster Tom Jenson says the makeup of the district itself poses an even bigger challenge.
TOM JENSON: The Independents lean in a very conservative manner. And the Democrats are not nearly as liberal as Democrats are nationally. I think that everybody who voted against health care is going to be helped in North Carolina.
ROSE: For NPR News, I'm Julie Rose in Charlotte.
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