Mark Harris announces he will not run in NC District 9 special election
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mark Harris announced Tuesday he will not run in a new election for the 9th Congressional District.
Harris, who was the unofficial winner of the 9th District election in November, made the announcement just days after a four-day hearing into alleged election fraud held by the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
The hearing ended abruptly during Harris’ testimony when he took the stand and read a statement that he had testified incorrectly under oath and called for a new election in the 9th District. NCSBE members voted to hold a new election within hours of that statement.
Tuesday’s announcement from Harris, which came in a statement released on his Facebook page, made clear that he would not be a candidate in the new election.
In the statement Harris says “after consulting with my physicians, there are several things that my health situation requires as a result of the extremely serious condition that I faced in mid-January. One of those is a necessary surgery that is now scheduled for the last week in March.”
The statement continues, “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.”
In his announcement, Harris endorsed Union County commissioner Stony Rushing for the seat.
Last Friday, Democrat Dan McCready announced that he will be running for the special election in NC09 following the North Carolina Board of Election vote Thursday to hold a new election.
“The one thing I can’t help but think is that what happened yesterday was that the State Board sent a message," McCready said at a rally in Charlotte. "In a 5-0 bipartisan decision - an historic decision - 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans came to together to send a message all across this country and all across the world that we care about democracy here in North Carolina.”
RELATED: What’s next for NC-09 election?
All five board members unanimously voted for a new election last week after Harris switched course during the investigation hearing and said he was in support of holding a new election in a prepared statement he read aloud to the board on the investigation’s fourth day.
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Daily breakdown of testimony from NC9 election fraud investigation hearing from Raleigh
Harris’ statement to the board provided a stunning twist to the hearing.
It’s been brought to my attention that I talked to my son my younger son Matthew who I referenced earlier two nights ago about the fact that I did not think John’s emails would be part of this hearing. Obviously I was incorrect in my recollection and I whole-heartedly apologize to the board.
On January 18th I went to the hospital after battling what we thought was bronchitis I developed a severe infection that actually caused me to become septic. In the process of that illness I experienced two strokes from which I’m still recovering.
Though I thought I was ready to undergo the rigors of this hearing and am getting stronger, I clearly am not and I struggled this morning with both recall and confusion.
Neither I nor any of the leadership of my campaign were aware of or condone the improper activities that have been testified to in this hearing.
Through the testimony I’ve listened to over the past three days I believe a new election should be called. It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District’s seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.
Harris made the statement above after admitting he was “incorrect” in his testimony to the board last week. Harris said it’s clear the public’s confidence in the election had been undermined and a new election was warranted.
Harris was leading Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the election to become the 9th District’s next congressman.
RELATED: NCSBE votes unanimously to hold new election in NC9
It became apparent there were issues with Mark Harris’ testimony when his attorney David Freedman interrupted cross examination by McCready attorney Marc Elias to ask to speak with board members in closed session.
At the end of last week, two sealed search warrants filed by Wake County District Attorney Lorin Freeman and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation are providing the first clues as to the nature of the criminal investigation into allegations of election fraud in the 9th Congressional District.
The warrants show criminal investigators have sought multiple sets of records related to McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County political operative who was hired by Mark Harris to run an absentee ballot operation in Bladen, Robeson and Cumberland Counties in the 2018 election.
Who will step up in Harris’ absence has yet to be seen. Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said he will not run in the District 9 race. McCrory made the announcement Monday morning on the WBT News radio show, answering a question on the minds of many.
McCrory said he is keeping the option open for running for governor in 2020 or U.S. Senate in 2022.
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