Former NC gov rules out running in 9th District, floats possible gubernatorial, Senate bids

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) ruled out a possible run in the state’s 9th District on Wednesday, saying that Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisDem candidate in contested North Carolina race refunds donation from Omar campaign Dem says he raised .6M for campaign in contested North Carolina district Warren: GOP knows 'if all the votes are counted, we'll win every time' MORE deserves a chance to “get the facts out” about alleged fraud in the disputed race.

But McCrory also opened the door to a potential gubernatorial bid in 2020 or a Senate run in 2022, saying that he would weigh his options through 2019.

“I’m going to do a thorough assessment on whether or not I want to run for governor again between now and December,” McCrory said on his radio show. “And I’m also going to do an assessment of whether or not I could make a positive difference possibly in running for the U.S. Senate, 2022.”

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McCrory, who was ousted from the governor’s mansion by current Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in 2016, said that he was not yet ready to announce concrete plans for his political career, because he has “other goals and aspirations” to pursue in the meantime.

“And plus, I’d be getting right back into the game that I’ve been criticizing,” he said. “The game of groveling for money, two years before an election even occurs.”

McCrory said numerous people have urged him to run in North Carolina’s 9th District if state election officials determine that a new election is necessary.

Harris currently leads Democrat Dan McCready in that race by 905 votes. But the now-defunct State Board of Elections refused to certify the election results amid allegations that a contractor for Harris’s campaign paid workers to illegally collect absentee ballots in rural Bladen County and neighboring Robeson County.

The elections board was ruled unconstitutional last year but continued to operate as a panel of judges granted appeals to delay its dissolution. It was finally dissolved last month after the judges rejected requests for a temporary stay.

The dissolution of the board threw the future of the fraud investigation into uncertainty. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 11, and Cooper has said that he intends to appoint members to an interim elections panel.

That panel would serve until Jan. 31, when a recently passed state law establishing a new elections board takes effect.

The uncertainty surrounding the former elections board and the fraud investigation could leave the 9th District seat vacant for weeks or even months. While Harris currently leads in the race, House Democratic leaders have signaled that they will refuse to seat the Republican until the dispute is resolved.

McCrory said that it would be “irresponsible” of him to challenge Harris for the House seat, if a new election is ordered.

“I think it would be irresponsible for me to say I’m running for that office,” he said. “Plus, I think my experience level and my leadership capabilities would be best suited elsewhere.”