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McCready Starts To Raise Money Again, Brings Back Campaign Team

Mark Harris For Congress / Dan McCready For Congress
Democrat Dan McCready (right) has started raising money for a possible new election against Republican Mark Harris (left).

Democrat Dan McCready, who has accused Republican Mark Harris of "bankrolling criminal activity" in the 9th Congressional District race, is preparing for a new election and has sent an e-mail to supporters asking for campaign contributions.

McCready, who has been doing numerous national and local interviews, is also trying to reassaemble his campaign staff.

"Right now people are turning around on the road to come back," said Aaron Simpson, who is McCready's communications director. "The logistical challenges of getting everyone back is pretty significant."

In an e-mail to supporters, McCready's campaign writes that the candidate "never imagined we would watch one of the most sacred of those rights, the right to vote, fall under attack right here at home. I’m not just disappointed, I’m not just surprised — I’m angry. And like you, I’m not going to stand for it."

The e-mail continued: "We can’t stand down just yet. Help me stay in this fight by chipping in a donation right now."

The N.C. Board of Elections has said it will hold a public evidentiary hearing on allegations of fraud in the race on or before Dec. 21. It's possible the board could order a new election, though it's unclear when that would be.

Gerry Cohen, an elections law expert in North Carolina, said state law only lets the board call a new election for the entire 9th district. He said it can't hold a smaller election in the two counties where fraud is alleged — Bladen and Robeson counties — and it can't call for a new Republican primary between Harris and Robert Pittenger.

In May, Harris narrowly defeated Pittenger, the incumbent. Harris won by 828 votes and won the absentee by mail vote in Bladen County with 96 percent of the vote. In Bladen County, Harris had 437 absentee-by-mail votes to Pittenger's 17.

In an interview with Spectrum News in November, Pittenger said there were "unsavory characters" in Bladen County. The state board has said that political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless is a "person of interest" in the investigation. The board is investigating whether Dowless or people working for him collected people's absentee ballot — an illegal practice known as "harvesting." 

Cohen said only the U.S. House of Representatives could order an entirely new election for the 9th District, including new party primaries. Some Democratic House members have said they might not seat Harris in January, but there hasn't been any discussion about new primaries.

McCready said in an interview on Charlotte Talks last week there should be a new election if it's found the Nov. 6 election was "tainted."

Harris released a video on Twitter Friday saying he would be open to a new election if the state board finds there was enough illegal activity that affected the outcome of the race.

In Robeson County, Democrats ran an aggressive effort to register new voters and get them to vote absentee by mail, said Steve Stone, the chairman of the Robeson County Board of Elections.

Robeson had the highest percent of unreturned absentee mail ballots in the state, almost all of them from Democratic voters. It's unclear whether those voters just didn't bother to vote.

Harris is leading McCready by 905 votes. He had 420 absentee mail votes in Bladen County and 259 mail-in votes in Robeson County.

If those are taken away, Harris would still be ahead by 226 votes. But McCready alleges that, as Dowless employees "harvested" absentee mail votes, they could have "silenced" McCready supporters by tampering with their ballots or throwing them away.