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Robert Cannon "Robin" Hayes (born August 14, 1945 in Concord, North Carolinamarker) is a former Republican Congressman from North Carolinamarker. He represented North Carolina's 8th congressional district in the House of Representatives for five terms from 1999 to 2009. He was defeated in a rematch against Larry Kissell in the 2008 congressional elections.

Early life

Hayes was born in Concord, North Carolinamarker and still owns a hosiery mill in Mount Pleasant, North Carolinamarker. He is a graduate of Duke Universitymarker. He was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1992 and served two terms. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 1996, but was heavily defeated by Democratic incumbent Jim Hunt.

Hayes owns a hosiery mill in Mount Pleasant, North Carolinamarker. His parents were Robert Griffith Hayes, Jr. (October 21, 1907 - November 12, 1998) and Mariam Winslow Cannon (January 22, 1916 - August 4, 2007), daughter of textile magnate Charles Albert Cannon (November 29, 1892 - April 2, 1971) and his wife Ruth Louise Coltrane (October 15, 1891 - December 22, 1965).

U.S. Congressional career

Hayes ran for Congress in 1998 after 12-term incumbent Democrat Bill Hefner announced his retirement. He narrowly defeated Democrat Mike Taylor, winning by only 3,400 votes. He had a much easier time in a rematch against Taylor in 2000.

Hayes was a perennial member on the list of Republican congressmen targeted for defeat by the Democrats. Even though a large chunk of its population is located in the conservative-leaning eastern suburbs of Charlottemarker, the 8th has long been considered marginally Democratic due to a strong Democratic presence in the eastern portion of the district closer to Fayettevillemarker. After the 2000 Census, the Democratic-controlled North Carolina General Assembly made the 8th considerably more Democratic than before. It shifted the heavily Republican western portion of Union Countymarker to the Charlotte-based 9th District. In its place, it added a heavily Democratic tendril in Mecklenburg Countymarker to the 8th, stretching from the far northeastern portion of Charlotte almost to Matthewsmarker. Still, Hayes was re-elected convincingly in 2002 and 2004.

The Sunlight Foundation reported that as of 2008, among the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Hayes had the highest amount of investment in oil stocks.

2006 and 2008 campaigns

In 2006, however, Hayes was nearly defeated by Democrat Larry Kissell, a social studies teacher and former textile worker from Montgomery Countymarker. Both men won approximately 50% of the vote, making it one of the closest elections in the country. In the end, Kissell conceded defeat to Hayes after a recount; Hayes officially won the election by 329 votes. This was especially stunning since Kissell received little help from the national party until late in the campaign. Although Hayes only won three of the district's nine counties, a 6,100-vote margin in his native Cabarrus Countymarker was enough to keep him in office.

In 2008, Hayes again faced Kissell. CQ Politics rated it as 'No Clear Favorite', The Rothenberg Political Report as 'Toss-Up/Tilt Democratic', and The Cook Political Report as 'Republican Toss Up'

Hayes came under fire late in the campaign for his comments at a rally for John McCain. On October 18, 2008 at a McCain rally, Hayes began his remarks by saying it was important to “make sure we don’t say something stupid, make sure we don’t say something we don’t mean.” He then accused Obama of “inciting class warfare” and said that “liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.” Hayes repeatedly denied that he had made the statement and accused reporters of "irresponsible journalism", until an audio recording attesting to the statement was released. A few days later at a debate hosted by the Independent Tribune of Kannapolismarker, Hayes denied that he denied the statement, saying he was denying only the context of how the remarks were presented to him.

Hayes was defeated rather handily in the rematch against Kissell, taking only 45 percent of the vote to Kissell's 55 percent.

Committee assignments

  • Agriculture Committee
    • Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research
    • Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on Specialty Crops, Rural Development and Foreign Agriculture
  • Armed Services Committee
    • Readiness Subcommittee
    • Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee
  • Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
    • Subcommittee on Aviation
    • Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
    • Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
  • Assistant Whip
  • Founding Co-Chairman of the Special Operations Forces Caucus
  • Co-Chairman of the Philanthropy Caucus

Political positions

Hayes is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.

CAFTA and Trade Act

Hayes has drawn heavy criticism for voting in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Hayes had earlier voiced his strong opposition to the measure, saying he felt it would cause further loss of textile industry jobs in his district. In the weeks before the vote, Hayes stated that he was "flat-out, completely, horizontally opposed to CAFTA," saying that "it's not in the best interests of the core constituency I represent," and that "there is no way I could vote for CAFTA". Hayes first voted "no" but was pressured at the last minute to change his vote by prominent House Republicans. The final tally was 217-215 with Hayes casting the deciding "yes" vote (a tie would have defeated the motion).

Hayes played a similar role in the passage of the Trade Act of 2002, which shifted some trade agreement authority from Congress to the President. Though Hayes had said "We're a definite 'no' until we get some help on textiles," he was lobbied hard by the White House and congressional leadership to vote for the measure. Hayes waited until the last minute before voting "yes," and broke down in tears on the floor of the House.

NASCAR vaccine scare

In October 2007, it was revealed that House Homeland Security officials were "advised" to take vaccines before attending a NASCAR race in Charlotte, North Carolinamarker. Hayes "took umbrage" when he heard about it and immediately defended the Lowe's Motor Speedwaymarker in his district and NASCAR fans nationwide. The uproar lasted for days and was covered on all major news outlets.


  1. Retrieved on Aug. 8, 2008
  2. Race Ratings Chart: House CQ Pollitics
  3. 2008 House Ratings The Rothenberg Political Report, October 14, 2008
  4. 2008 Competitive House Race Chart The Cook Political Report, October 14, 2008
  5. Thomas (Library of Congress): HR 4777
  6. This Article is Available to Subscribers Only, The New Republic

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