North Carolina Republican candidate Mark Harris will not run in the new election after the results of the initial election were contested, CNN is reporting. Harris, who ran for the 9th Congressional District, appeared to had won his election against Democratic opponent Dan McCready by 900 votes. After it was discovered that absentee ballots were compromised due to the work of a political consultant hired by Harris’ campaign, the state Board of Elections voted to hold a second election. Harris now says he will not be running in this second election due to an “extremely serious condition.”
“Given my health situation, the need to regain full strength, and the timing of this surgery the last week of March, I have decided not to file in the new election for Congressional District 9,” Harris said in a statement.
Harris went on to say that he owes it to wife, children, and grandchildren, to step back from this election in the best interest of his health.
“I also owe it to the citizens of the Ninth District to have someone at full strength during the new campaign,” he added.
“It is my hope that in the upcoming primary, a solid conservative leader will emerge to articulate the critical issues that face our nation.”
An investigation into Harris’ win first came under investigation after it was rumored that Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked on the campaign, may have altered and/or disposed of absentee ballots. A total of 1,341 absentee ballots were requested in Bladen County, yet only 684 of those ballots were ever cast. Dowless turned in 592 of them. Dowless is a convicted felon hired by a consulting firm paid by the Harris campaign, but Harris maintains that he had no idea Dowless would do this.
"The son of Republican candidate Mark Harris testified...that he warned his father about the illegal tactics of a political operative that Harris hired and casting doubt on Harris' insistence that he had no knowledge of fraudulent election activity." https://t.co/lOnhZLLXRg— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) February 21, 2019
Harris’ son, John, testified that while he had no reason to believe his father had knowledge of Dowless’ actions, he does admit he warned his father of Dowless being untrustworthy multiple times. John’s testimony is in direct conflict with Harris and Harris’ strategists’ testimonies that claimed no one had warned him of Dowless. While Harris fought hard for the initial results to be certified — arguing that he should be seated in Congress while the investigation was still ongoing — The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement refused to certify Harris as the winner twice.
Now, Harris’ original opponent McCready is enthusiastic about running again, referring to the new election as “a big victory for democracy.”