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Democratic Party Chairman: Will GOP 'Disavow' Harris?

N.C. Department of Insurance

Now that there will be a new election in the North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, state Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin is curious if the Republican Party will stand by Mark Harris. Goodwin spoke to WFAE's All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey shortly after the state Board of Elections ordered a new election.

Mark Rumsey: Right now I'm going to go to the phone. And North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin is joining us live this afternoon at WFAE. Hi Mr. Goodwin.

Wayne Goodwin: Yes, hello. Good afternoon.

Mark Rumsey: Thank you for being here. And what is your initial reaction to the election board's call for this new election?

Wayne Goodwin: Well it is clearly the right call. And this is something that we have forecast and called for throughout this process once it was determined that there was an unfair election.

So through this four-day hearing that - we haven't seen one like this in my lifetime here in North Carolina - we learned what was suspected all along, that there was an unfair election. There was an election fraud scheme that involved a gentleman and a program hired by the Mark Harris campaign and the investigators did an outstanding job of making their case and the facts went exactly where I believe objective people thought they would go given what we already knew.

Mark Rumsey: Well, of course, we've all been hearing the evidence and the testimony about what happened. This is a state elections board hearing. It's not a court of law so we don't want to jump to that level. But back to this call for the new election, Dan McCready the Democratic candidate who as of up to this point has been trailing in this election by 905 votes. Have you talked with him in the last little bit since the new election was called for?

Wayne Goodwin: I have not. My phone has been ringing off the hook. I have not spoken with him yet. I do anticipate speaking with Dan McCready soon. Obviously, this is an outcome that I expect he believed was the right outcome, and I know he would because we all wanted a fair election in the 9th Congressional District. And he has indicated that he is running and we all want to make sure what happens next is a fair election and follows every rule and every guideline that our elections should have and that the voters count upon. 

Mark Rumsey: How precarious is it though even for Mr. McCready at this point not knowing for sure who he'll be running against? There seems to be at least some question marks surrounding Mark Harris' plans.

Wayne Goodwin: Well this is still a changing story as we go. You know up until just a few minutes ago Mark Harris, the Mark Harris campaign and the North Carolina Republican Party were adamantly opposed to a new election and they were dead set on certification. And then McCready and the Democratic Party of North Carolina was focused on the next steps- what would happen you know. But then, of course, we had this very shocking testimony today and yesterday and the surprise decision by Mark Harris himself that a new election was in fact warranted.

So this is going to be interesting to see what happens. I did hear the question about what a primary would look like on the Republican side - not knowing what Mark Harris is going to do. But I am curious about whether the state Republican Party is going to disavow Mark Harris and his campaign or whether they will encourage him to run. They've stood behind him all this time. So we shall see. But Dan McCready has said that he was running if there was a new election. He had been calling for a new election all along.

Mark Rumsey: And Mr. Goodwin, there have been also accusations along the way that a group called the Bladen County Improvement Association also has an aggressive operation to get people to vote by mail and to harvest ballots - again accusations of that. But is this a potential problem for both Democrats and Republicans going forward with this much of a spotlight?

Wayne Goodwin: Well I think everyone learns from this and everyone realizes that the law must control this and that whatever may have happened or was alleged to have happened by any group or any campaign in the past no matter whatever party you are affiliated with or not, that it is vital to the trust that voters want to have and should have in the process that the laws be followed. Now it's my understanding that the Bladen County Improvement Project is a civil rights organization that encourages folks to vote. That there was a matter that was closed on that a few years ago. I'm not aware of any investigation presently involving them and pertaining to 2018.

Wayne Goodwin: The matter today was only about Mark Harris and the Mark Harris campaign and the North Carolina Republican Party's position on whether there should be a new election and clearly now there will be a new election.

Mark Rumsey: And just for clarity, at this point, Mr. Goodwin, do you think that based on what has been said at the hearing in the last several days that individuals need to be held accountable or with evidence presented in a criminal court?

Wayne Goodwin: Well as you as you said earlier that the hearing today was a civil hearing, an administrative state agency hearing and the appropriate authorities will take whatever evidence and do what they believe they need to do with that obviously...

Mark Rumsey: But based on what you've heard do you think that should happen?

Wayne Goodwin: Based on what I've heard, yes. There must be accountability. We have had one or more individuals who admitted to breaking the law. And it's important that there be accountability and there is apparently reams of evidence now that further implicates, it seems, McRae Dowless and others within his scheme

Mark Rumsey: All right Mr. Goodwin thank you very much for your time this afternoon.