Dan McCready jumps back into 9th District race

Democrat Dan McCready wasted no time restarting his campaign after a new election was ordered in the 9th Congressional District.

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Matthew Burns
, WRAL.com senior producer/politics editor, & Laura Leslie, WRAL Capitol Bureau chief
WAXHAW, N.C. — Democrat Dan McCready wasted no time restarting his campaign after a new election was ordered in the 9th Congressional District.

McCready, who appeared to have lost the 9th District to Republican Mark Harris in November, announced Friday that he plans to run in the special election the State Board of Elections ordered Thursday afternoon.

The elections board held four days of hearings this week into allegations of fraud in the 9th District race and determined that McCrae Dowless, a political operative hired by Harris, illegally collected absentee ballots in Bladen County.

Harris testified Thursday in the hearings that a consulting firm hired by his campaign oversaw Dowless' activities and that he was unaware of any illegalities. Yet, he ended his testimony with a statement that the evidence of fraud uncovered by state investigators undermined public confidence in the 9th District results from November and that he agreed a new election was warranted.

The elections board then voted unanimously to order another election in the race. A state law passed in December requires that primaries also be held. No dates for the primaries or the special election have been set.

"The state board sent a message," McCready told supporters at a news conference in Waxhaw, "all across this country and all across the world that we care about our democracy here in North Carolina."

So many voters are disillusioned by what they heard in the elections board's hearings, he said, and he wants to fight the "culture of corruption" in which politicians put themselves before their constituents and their political parties before their country.

"This is so much bigger than one election," he said. "We are in this fight, and we are going to win this fight."

Harris left the hearing Thursday without saying whether he would run in the new election, but in his statement, he mentioned several health problems he's suffered in recent weeks, including two strokes, leading many observers to believe he won't run again.

McCready said Harris will "need to ask for forgiveness from the voters" before he re-enters the race.

Former Congressman Robert Pittenger, whom Harris defeated in the GOP primary last May, declined to say Friday whether he would run again but noted that he is "fully engaged" in hosting Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forums around the world. The forums, which have been held since 2014, were developed to provide better awareness and collaboration with U.S. allies.

Other names bandied about for a Republican primary include former Gov. Pat McCrory, former state Sen. Tommy Tucker of Union County and state Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson. It's unclear whether anyone would challenge a well-funded and already organized McCready in the Democratic primary.

Jeff Scott, a Libertarian who finished a distant third in the November election, also may run again.

Filling the seat will take at least five months because the timeline for elections is set by state and federal law and basic logistics.

First, candidates need to be given time to file. Then, elections officials need two weeks to design, test and print ballots for all the different precincts. After that, 46 days are required for absentee, overseas and military voting.

After that comes Election Day and then a 10-day window before the canvass makes the outcome official.

Altogether, that's about 10 weeks. Because of the new state law requiring primaries, that means at least two 10-week cycles – a third would be needed if either primary went to a runoff.

"This [election] needs to happen as soon as possible," McCready said. "Every day that goes by without representation [in the U.S. House] is tragic, and we've got three-quarters of a million people [in the 9th District] that have no voice right now because of fraud and cheating. ... We need to do everything we can to speed up this process and give us a voice in Congress."


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