Crowded GOP Primary Expected In New NC-09 Race

Mar 4, 2019

Credit Juli Leonard / The News & Observer via AP, Pool

A new election has been set for North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. And the May 14 primary is likely to feature a crowded GOP field.

Dan McCready finished a close second behind Republican Mark Harris in the now discarded mid-term elections. And the Democrat already has raised a lot of cash for another run.

Harris said he is not running again, after the elections board determined that ballot tampering by a Harris campaign operative tainted the results of the November contest.

Candidate filing for the new 9th district race opens the week of March 11. The general election will be Sept. 10, unless a primary runoff is needed. In that case, the general election will take place Nov. 5.

Board staff had considered trying to coordinate the 9th district special election with the special contest needed to fill the late Congressman Walter Jones's seat in the 3rd Congressional District.

However, elections board Executive Director Kim Strach said she wanted state elections board staff to oversee the 9th district do-over, especially in Bladen and Robeson counties, the epicenter of the absentee ballot-collecting scheme by McCrae Dowless, the independent contractor hired by the Harris campaign. Dowless has been arrested and charged with felonious obstruction of justice and possession of absentee ballots.

"We think it is extremely important that staff, our staff, be on the ground in Bladen and Robeson counties throughout this process," said Strach, at Monday's state elections board hearing, explaining that Bladen and Robeson counties currently only have interim county elections board directors.

In their investigation of voting irregularities in the 9th district, state elections board staff found lax security conditions in Bladen County, including labeled keys to the ballot room hanging from a hook in a common area.

Libertarian Jeff Scott, who finished third in November, said he will run again. Declared GOP candidates include State Sen. Dan Bishop, of Mecklenburg County, one-time Wake County Commission candidate David Blackwelder and Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing, who has Harris's endorsement.

The GOP field also may include former state Sen. Tommy Tucker, of Union County, and former Mecklenburg County commissioner Matthew Ridenhour.