WASHINGTON – Democratic Rep. Larry Kissells district is within 10 miles of the Charlotte, N.C., arena where the Democratic National Convention will start Sept. 4.
Kissell doesnt plan to attend.
The lawmaker is among a growing number of Democrats in both chambers of Congress who are keeping their distance from President Obama as they seek re-election this year in Republican territory.
Other Democrats in states or districts where the presidents poll numbers are low are emphasizing that they arent in lock step with him on such policy areas as energy, taxation and the environment.
Kissells North Carolina district, as redrawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature, has an oversupply of those people who are just unalterably opposed to Obama, said Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
That means Kissell has got to make the race much more of a local race than a national race to win, Guillory said.
Democrats efforts to retain control of the Senate and gain seats in the House this November may hinge on their success in races in Republican-friendly states including North Carolina, North Dakota, Missouri and West Virginia, where Republicans have been working to hurt their rivals by tying them to Obamas policies.
The president simply isnt going to be popular everywhere and, to some extent, thats true under any administration, said John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. The interests of the president may diverge from the interests of his partys members of Congress.
These Democratic candidates, for the most part, are keeping a polite distance from Obama by emphasizing differences on policy, skipping the nominating convention or not endorsing his bid for a second term.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskills decision not to attend the Democratic convention is notable because she was one of the first senators to publicly support Obama in his 2008 primary race against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
McCaskill was among several Democratic lawmakers who didnt back Obamas endorsement of same-sex marriage May 9. McCaskill said Thursday she doesnt shy away from expressing views that differ from Obamas.
I can be stubbornly independent and hard to get along with about things I care about, and I am proud of that, she said.