Democrat withdraws concession in scandalous North Carolina race

Tabitha Dunn
December 7, 2018

GOP representative Mark Harris at a postelection press conference. Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by about 900 votes, but results are not certified.

Amid the developments, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the House "retains the right to decide who is seated" and could take the "extraordinary step" of calling for a new election if the victor isn't clear.

"Clearly if what you reported is verified by the state board of elections ... there has to be a new election, and if ..."

Entertaining the idea of a new election represents a significant change from last Thursday, when state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes issued a statement saying: "Democrats are throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at the wall to try and steal an election".

Unofficial totals have Republican Mark Harris leading McCready by 905 votes. The state is investigating claims that a GOP operative may have manipulated ballots.

"There's reason to doubt the capacity of the State Board of Elections", state Sen. But we do know enough. The board is meeting later this month to hear evidence, but it's unclear whether the race will be settled then.

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It's hard to fault the paper's reasoning.

Of the 1,300 or so absentee ballot requests Bladen County received, Dowless turned in nearly half of those on behalf of voters. Wake County district attorney Lorrin Freeman told CNN on Wednesday that many appear to have been destroyed.

Harris may not be the only Republican to have benefited from Dowless's work, either.

"The news report are horrifying". And The New Yorker reported that Dowless, who was also convicted of insurance fraud in 1992, has been implicated in electoral fraud since 2017, when the owner of a video-sweepstakes operation admitted in a sworn affidavit to helping fund Dowless's ballot-harvesting efforts on behalf of a Republican candidate for sheriff in 2014. Harris defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in that primary and won a majority of the mail-in vote in Bladen County. The employees who worked for Dowless in Bladen County also served as witnesses for an unusually high number of voters.

"If they can say with a strong degree of certainty that the outcome of the race was changed or there is a substantial likelihood that it could have been, the law requires that there be a new election, and we would not oppose", said Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, in an interview with NPR. In other words, McCrory attributed fraud to the Democratic Party. If so, fewer people would be deciding the victors, particularly in the District 9 race. And it isn't getting any neater as time goes on.

Some Virginia Democratic lawmakers want a congressional investigation into the matter. And with even Woodhouse conceding that a new election might be necessary, Harris's chances of occupying a seat in Congress are beginning, ever-so-gradually, to shrink.

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