“Obviously from a pure political viewpoint, McIntyre has to separate himself from the president by a large degree, but by the same token I don’t think he needs to endorse the Republican economic issues,” McNeill said.

Others are less sympathetic. The former Democratic chairman in Montgomery County, Ralph Bostic, said Kissell should jump the aisle. And on Thursday, African-American political leaders who had supported Kissell announced they will not be endorsing him.

McIntyre and Kissell, of Biscoe, N.C., are seen as two of the most vulnerable Democrats nationally up for re-election. They survived the 2010 Republican onslaught by carefully tending to the temperament of the conservative voters back home. More than 50 Democratic colleagues from across the country didn’t make it, such as longtime incumbent Bob Etheridge of Lillington, N.C., who has said his vote for the health care bill cost him his re-election…

“It’s a dilemma that many of us in the progressive community find ourselves in from time to time,” said G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson, N.C., Democrat among those who are angry with Kissell. “Would we prefer to hold our nose and continue to support a Democrat who does not support the Democratic agenda and Democratic values just in the interest of not having a right-wing Republican in the seat? It’s very frustrating. I don’t have the magic answer.”