(NEW YORK) — Democrat Dan McCready, who narrowly lost a congressional election in North Carolina’s 9th district last year, announced Friday he will run for the seat again after the state board of elections voted to hold a new election following an investigation into widespread fraud in the 2018 race.
“I am running in the special election to represent the people of the 9th District,” McCready told supporters Friday at a brewery outside of Charlotte. “I want to say right now that we are in this fight and we are going to win this fight.”
“This is bigger than one race. This is bigger than one election. This is about what does it mean to live in a democracy,” McCready added. “Our right to vote is our most sacred freedom as Americans.”
McCready comes into the raise already a proven fundraiser, having raised $6.7 million for his 2018 race, and has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
The timing of the new primary and general election in the 9th Congressional District will be decided at a meeting of the state board of elections. The timing of that meeting has not yet been announced.
The announcement from McCready comes the day after the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously on to hold a new election in the 9th Congressional District – a move that came hours after Mark Harris, the Republican congressional candidate at the center of the case, testified.
“I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said during the hearing, adding that his conclusion is based on the testimony he’s heard over the last four days.
While it’s unclear whether Harris will run again in a new election, both men would have to compete in a primary election, according to a law passed by the GOP-controlled legislature late last year.
McCready tweeted Thursday following the board’s decision saying, “Today was a great step forward for democracy in North Carolina.”
North Carolina Democrats said the evidence revealed at the nearly four-day hearing shows Harris knew far more about the allegedly illicit scheme than he previously disclosed.
“Over an extraordinary four-day hearing, investigators laid out point by point how Republican Mark Harris’ campaign funded and directed an elaborate, illegal scheme to steal an election,” North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin wrote in a statement. “This saga could only have ended in a new election, and we look forward to repairing the harm dealt by Republicans and giving the people of the Ninth district the representative they deserve.”
Republicans thanked the State Board of Elections and said they’ll do what they can to ensure that “these kinds of situations can be avoided in the future.”
“We will continue to work with legislators and investigators on how we can improve the electoral system so that these kinds of situations can be avoided in the future,” North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The people of North Carolina deserve nothing less than the full confidence and trust in the electoral system. We’d like to thank the hard-working staff and members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections for their professionalism and dedication in this investigation.”
Just a day before the board’s decision to hold a new election, Harris’ own son said he’d raised concerns about a “shady political operative,” seeking to join the Republican congressional candidate’s campaign.
Harris’ comments came amid an ongoing election fraud case which has now triggered a brand new election.
“Sitting here four days into this meeting … my son was a bit prophetic in his statement that day,” Harris said of his son John’s warning about McCrae Dowless, the political hand accused of running an illegal absentee ballot collecting scheme in the state’s 9th Congressional District.
That warning was revealed in testimony on Wednesday and came in a phone conversation and later an e-mail in April 2017, after John Harris said he discovered abnormalities in absentee vote totals in one rural Bladen County, North Carolina.
Despite the warnings, Mark Harris eventually hired Dowless to do absentee ballot and other campaign work.
Harris won the 2018 election in the district by 905 votes, but after concerns were raised by the North Carolina State Board of Elections about potential election fraud, the result was not certified, leaving the seat vacant and hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without representation in the U.S. House.
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