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Charlotte's Dan Bishop Jumps In GOP Primary For 9th District, Says Campaign Will Be 'Well Financed'

Dan Bishop / Twitter

Mecklenburg State Sen. Dan Bishop - the last Republican in the county's legislative delegation - has filed to run in the special election in the 9th Congressional District.

Bishop is the second Charlotte Republican to enter the race. Matthew Ridenhour, a former county commissioner, filed paperwork Thursday morning.

Filing for the May 14th primary began Monday and ends Friday.

So far, Ridenhour and Bishop are the two Mecklenburg politicians in the race, and there are also two from Union County: Commissioner Stony Rushing and Fern Shubert, a former state senator from Marshville.

Mecklenburg and Union together comprised about 65 percent of the votes in last year's Republican primary in the eight-county district.

Rushing is a close ally of Republican Mark Harris, whose campaign was the focus of the N.C. Board of Elections public hearing into allegations of fraud in last year's election. Rushing said in an interview with WFAE this week that he doesn't think there should be a new election, and he is unsure whether Bladen County political operative McCrae Dowless illegally collected voter's mail ballots.

[Related: GOP Candidate Stony Rushing: Mark Harris' Son 'Didn't Know What He Was Talking About']

He also said Mark Harris' son, John Harris, "didn't know what he was talking about" when he testified during the elections board's hearing. John Harris said he warned his Mark Harris that Dowless was breaking the law and that his father shouldn't hire him.

In an interview Thursday, Bishop was asked whether there should have been a new election in the 9th District.

"I don't condone, and I condemn, the conduct that's alleged," he said. 

But Bishop added, "there are lots of unanswered questions. One thing that's unanswered is the involvement of (Democratic candidate) Dan McCready with the Bladen County Improvement Association. There are many answers left to get."

The Bladen Improvement Association is a group funded in part by the N.C. Democratic Party. The elections board investigated the group in 2016 about whether it illegally helped voters with their absentee mail ballots in the 2016 general election.

Rushing and other Republicans have said the Bladen Improvement PAC also collected ballots, a charge the group has denied.

Bishop, a former Mecklenburg commissioner, was first elected to the General Assembly in 2014. He was the co-sponsor of House Bill 2 in 2016, the controversial state law that nullified the legal protections the Charlotte City Council had recently extended to the LGBT community.

In a news conference in Raleigh after he filed, Bishop said HB2 as an issue is "exhausted."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement Thursday saying HB2 would be a major part of the upcoming campaign.

"That won’t fly with voters in North Carolina’s Ninth District; they remember all too well the harm Bishop’s HB-2 inflicted on North Carolina’s economy," the DCCC said in a statement. 

In last year's election, Democrats defeated five Mecklenburg GOP incumbents, leaving Bishop as the only Republican in the county's delegation.

"I'm going to explain clearly to the people where I stand," Bishop said. "That's one thing that everyone understands I have never shied away from. Dan McCready has steadfastly avoided that."

There has been speculation among Republicans that Bishop, an attorney, is considering spending $250,000 of his own money into the race. 

"We will address the financing for the campaign in due course," he said. "Certainly we do have plans to make sure we are well financed."