North Carolina GOP candidate says he will support new election if evidence of fraud emerges

Republican candidate Mark HarrisMark HarrisElection scandal looms over House race in NC North Carolina House race redo draws nearly a dozen GOP candidates House clerk to take over constituent services for contested North Carolina district MORE said Friday he’d support a new election if evidence emerges that illegal activity could have changed the outcome of his closely divided House race in North Carolina.

Harris, who leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes a month after the Nov. 6 race, said he trusts the ongoing investigation by the North Carolina State Board of Elections into fraud claims and irregularities in absentee ballots in the state's 9th Congressional District.

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“I’m hopeful that this process will ultimately result in the certification of my election to Congress before the next House session begins,” Harris said in a video posted on Twitter on Friday.

 

 

“However, if this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side, to such a level that it could have changed the outcome of the election, then I would wholeheartedly support a new election to ensure all voters have confidence in the results.”

The probe is centered around an unusually high number of absentee ballots requests in Bladen County, many of which were never returned, and canvassers who illegally collected ballots from a number of voters.

Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., who worked as an independent contractor for Harris’s campaign, is at the center of the investigation. Dowless was named by a few witnesses who said they were paid by him to illegally collect absentee ballots.

Harris’s announcement comes as Democrats and Republicans dispute who should conduct an investigation into the allegations of widespread fraud.

Three Republican state senators held a news conference on Thursday calling on Gov. Roy Cooper (D) to create a bipartisan task force to investigate the allegations, arguing they lost faith in the state election board’s abilities to look into the claims.

The board will hold an evidentiary hearing by Dec. 21 after deciding not to certify the results from the election, though the fate of the body remains in limbo. 

A court stay to keep the current structure intact is set to expire Dec. 12. The board was deemed unconstitutional by a court ruling, arguing that it limited the governor’s authority.

Multiple news outlets have reported that the elections board issued subpoenas to Harris’s campaign and Red Dome Group, a political consulting firm that contracted Dowless.

McCready withdrew his concession on Thursday after last month conceding the race to replace Rep. Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerNorth Carolina reporter says there could be 'new crop' of GOP candidates in 9th Congressional District race North Carolina board calls for new election in contested House race Obama political arm to merge with Holder-run group MORE (R).

“I didn’t serve overseas in the Marines to come home to NC and watch a criminal, bankrolled by my opponent, take away people’s very right to vote,” McCready said in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday.

“Today I withdraw my concession and call on Mark Harris to end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when.”

Harris, a pastor, on Friday said he was “absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing” in the election and said he’ll continue to cooperate with the probe.

Updated at 3:31 p.m.